As Commander of the First Army Corps in Argentina during the height of repression under the military dictatorship, General Guillermo Suarez-Mason was responsible for the abduction, torture, and “disappearance” of thousands of Argentine citizens. When Raul Alfonsin came to power in 1984, ending the military reign, Suarez Mason fled the country to avoid being called to account for his crimes.
In January 1987 Suarez-Mason, who had been on Interpol lists for years, was arrested in Foster City, California, where he is being held for extradition.
The CCR represents Horacio Martinez Baca, Alfredo Forti, and Debora Benchoam, three of Suarez.Mason’s victims, in a case patterned on Filartiga v. Pena-lrala. In the Filartiga case the court held that foreign nationals may sue malfeasors for violations of internationally recognized human rights, even where the acts occurred abroad, so long as the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant.
Martinez.Baca was abducted, tortured, and detained without charges for more than four years. Forti was abducted with his mother and four brothers; his mother has not been seen since. Benchoam was imprisoned without charges for four and a half years, and her brother was tortured and killed. The three sued Suarez-Mason in April, 1987, seeking in excess of $10 million in damages.
David Cole, Peter Weiss, Michael Ratner, with Samuel Issacharoff, William C. Gordon, and Morrison & Foerster