updated 6/14/2005 12:33:12 PM ET 2005-06-14T16:33:12

Argentina's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that laws granting amnesty for atrocities committed during the so-called Dirty War are unconstitutional, opening the possibility that hundreds of people could be brought back to court.

Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people disappeared during Argentina's 1976-83 military rule in a crackdown on leftist dissidents.

In a 7-1 vote, with one abstention, the Supreme Court struck down laws passed in 1986 forbidding charges involved in the disappearances, torture and other crimes, a court spokesman told The Associated Press.

Some 3,000 officers, about 300 of whom are still serving in the armed forces, could be called for questioning, according to human rights groups, which estimated that up to 400 of them could face new charges.

The ruling came in the case of Julio Simon, a former police officer accused in the disappearance of Jose Poblete and Gertrudis Hlaczik, and of his taking their daughter, Claudia Poblete, as his own.

Ruling will serve as a precedent
Under Argentine law, the ruling serves as precedent in other cases involving atrocities during the Dirty War.

Hours before the verdict was delivered, Defense Minister Jose Pampuro said there was apprehension in the armed forces about the possibility of reopening trials.

"In a personal capacity, some men who might be involved in some situation are expressing worry," he said in a television interview.

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