The French government has withdrawn a 1985 award to former naval lieutenant commander Ricardo Cavallo, convicted years later for crimes against humanity during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, the Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday in a communiqué.
"At the request of the Argentine government, the Foreign Ministry has been notified that French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe have signed the decree withdrawing the Ordre National du Mérite awarded on June 27, 1985 to the repressor Ricardo Cavallo," the communiqué said.
At that time Cavallo was naval attaché at the Argentine Embassy in Paris.
This request by survivors of the dictatorship was transmitted by President Alberto Fernández during his official visit to France in February, the communiqué recalled.
Cavallo is in prison in Argentina after receiving two life sentences, one in 2011 for multiple crimes at the ESMA Navy Mechanics School concentration camp and the other in 2017 at the trial of the so-called “death flights.”
Cavallo, 68, alias "Sérpico" or "Marcelo,” was one of the naval officers forming Task Force 332, responsible for thousands of kidnaps, tortures, rapes and murders at ESMA, including the French nuns Alice Domon and Léonie Duquet in 1977.
The decoration of the ex-officer had been confirmed in 2010 by then French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner after a query by the humanitarian organisation Nouveaux Droits de L'Homme.
Since then ESMA survivors have been demanding withdrawal of the distinction.
In its communiqué the Foreign Ministry thanked President Macron and his Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, "for their prompt response to a request by victims of state terrorism."