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Argentines Seek Damages For Sinking

July 5, 2000

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Argentine relatives of sailors killed in Britain’s sinking of a warship in the Falklands Islands war presented a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights for damages from the British government.

The relatives’ lawyers contended the cruiser General Belgrano was torpedoed beyond the 200-mile military ``exclusion zone″ imposed by Britain around the Falklands Islands during the 10-week war in 1982. Of the General Belgrano’s 1,093 crew members, 323 died.

The lawyers, Jorge Appiani and Jorge Antonio Olivera, also contend the only aim ``was to frustrate peace negotiations″ for the islands, called Las Malvinas by Argentines.

A three-judge panel is expected to take several months before deciding whether the complaints are admissible at the European court based in Strasbourg, France.

A military government in Argentina ordered an invasion of the islands in 1982 to back its claim that it inherited the Falklands from the Spanish crown before they were occupied by Britain in 1833. The archipelago is populated by about 2,200 people of mostly British ancestry.

The war claimed at least 970 lives before British forces regained control of the islands.

Argentina never sought damages after the war and only restored diplomatic relations in 1990. Argentina still maintains its claims to the islands.

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