Argentine judge Leopoldo Schiffrin, activist for human rights and Jewish causes, dies at 81


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Leopoldo Schiffrin, a judge in Argentina who was an activist for human rights and Jewish causes, has died.

Schiffrin died Monday at the age of 81 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province.

He had been a judge of the Federal Court of Appeals of La Plata city since 1987, and also served as president of that court between 1993 and 1998.

Schiffrin served as president of the Argentine-Israeli Cultural Institute of La Plata city.

Schiffrin was involved in the trials for the extradition of Nazi war criminals living illegally in Argentina and was one of the promoters of the criminal trials that eventually took place against the perpetrators of state terrorism.

Among other recognitions, he received the Bnai B’rith Award for Human Rights.

He was one of the first judges in Argentina to rule that there is no statute of limitations for trying cases for crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes. In 2016, Schiffrin declared for the first time that the statute of limitations also did not apply to a corruption case.

In 1987 he ruled that Nazi war criminal Josef Schwammberger could not claim a citizen’s immunity from extradition because the crimes of which he was accused were committed before he obtained Argentine citizenship. Schwammberger’s defense was based on two premises: that as an Argentine citizen he could not be extradited, and that the then-state of West Germany was not competent to try people for crimes committed under the authority of pre-1945 Germany.

Schiffrin also ruled that West Germany represented the continuity of the state that Schwammberger served and signed his extradition to Germany for trial.

Schiffrin, a consistent defender of human rights and an active member of the Argentina Jewish community, had been the subject of several anti-Semitic attacks.

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