Antonio Marchesi

The "Reverberi" Case and the Current Limits of Italian Cooperation in the Punishment of International Crimes

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Extradition; Torture; Self-executing; Statute of Limitations; Impunity; Safe Haven.

Following a decision of the Court of Cassation, Italy's refusal to extradite Mr. Reverberi to Argentina, to be tried for participation in acts of torture, has become final. The Court rejected a request by Argentina to reverse a previous decision to deny Reverberi's extradition. This request was based on the argument that the obligation to extradite in the UN Convention Against Torture is selfexecuting and of a procedural nature, and can therefore be implemented even without the adoption by Italy of "ad hoc" domestic legislation. The Court of Cassation's response is that, in the absence of a specific offence of torture, which has yet to be introduced into Italian criminal law, acts amounting to torture must be qualified as other (lesser) criminal offences and that, having the facts in the present case occurred many years ago, the statute of limitations inevitably leads to denial of extradition (on account of the double criminality rule). In fact, on account of the statute of limitations, neither extradition or prosecution for acts of torture occurred in the past is usually possible under current Italian legislation. Only the legislative branch (not the judiciary) can fill this gap and avoid its consequences by adopting "ad hoc" legislation introducing a specific offence of torture.

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