Corrected: Famed Spanish judge backs Argentine group Nobel bid

Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:08pm EDT
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(Corrects type of investigation in third paragraph)

By Alexandra Ulmer

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group that is trying to find missing victims of Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship, should win the Nobel Peace Prize, a controversial Spanish judge said.

Judge Baltasar Garzon, who won fame for his attempt to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for human rights abuses in 1999, told reporters he believes the group has a good chance of winning the coveted prize.

"These women deserve the prize for a battle that transcends Argentine borders," said Garzon, who is awaiting trial on charges he exceeded his authority by ordering an investigation into killings during Spain's Civil War from 1936-1939.

The women are dedicated to identifying their grandchildren who were stolen from abducted political prisoners and often adopted by families with military ties.

Up to 30,000 people died or disappeared during Argentina's "Dirty War," a bloody crackdown on leftists and other opponents. So far, the group has helped identify 101 children of disappeared prisoners.

Garzon spoke along with Chilean senator Isabel Allende, the daughter of former Chilean President Salvador Allende and the cousin of author Isabel Allende, They belong to the 17-member council created to promote the group candidacy for the prize.

"There is no better Nobel Peace Prize than finding a grandchild," said Estela de Carlotto, the head of the group, during the council's presentation. "We are democratically constructing a new Argentina."   Continued...