Spain extradites doctor to Uruguay

by Lorraine Williamson
Uruguay doctor to face court

MADRID – Spain’s Supreme Court last week approved the extradition to Uruguay of a doctor suspected of helping soldiers torture opponents of the then right-wing dictatorship in the 1970s. 

The Spanish court thus responded to the request for extradition from a court in Montevideo. It concerns the doctor Carlos Americo Suzacq. The man is said to have worked in a military prison between 1972 and 1975, according to statements made to the judge by nine victims of torture. 

In that prison he is said to have advised a Cavaleria regiment about torture. He is said to have determined how far the torture was extended or when the executioners had to stop. The former prisoners remembered his face and managed to name the doctor who oversaw their martyrdom. Furthermore, he is currently 72 years old and has a clinic in Madrid. 

One of the former detainees stated that he had been interrogated and tortured for four consecutive days. All the while he remained “naked and handcuffed by his legs”. The soldiers gave him several electric shocks and, according to his own words, it was Suzacq who told them if he could endure further torture. 

Doctor opposes on the basis of his dual nationality 

However, the doctor from Uruguay is resisting his extradition. As an argument, he points to the fact that he had Spanish nationality through his marriage to a Spanish national in 1978. In addition, he says he has worked as a doctor in Spain since 1977. 

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Criteria of double criminality 

The Court gives more weight to other things. The court also finds that the criteria of double criminality and minimum punishment are met in this case. Similarly, it is argued that Spanish nationality in no way precludes extradition, nor does the fact that he practiced the medical profession in Spain for 29 years. 

Prevent crimes from going unpunished 

Given the seriousness of the crimes and “to prevent them from going unpunished”, the magistrates have decided to respond to Uruguay’s request for cooperation and to order the physical presence of the accused in the criminal proceedings of the Latin American country . 

Uruguay dictatorship 

During the dictatorship in Uruguay, from 1973 to 1985, about 200 people were kidnapped and murdered. Thousands of prisoners have been tortured. A 2011 law corrects a previous amnesty and states that such crimes do not become time-barred. 

Also read: Spain withdraws medals postmortem from Franco´s executioners

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