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Hugo Sofia

Volume 385: debated on Thursday 14 July 1977

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3.24 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government for what purpose an Argentine citizen using the name Hugo Sofia, a former officer who was employed at the Escuela de la Mecanica Armada, in the Libertador suburb of Buenos Aires, a place frequently cited by the victims as an unofficial detention centre where torture is practised, has been admitted to the United Kingdom.

My Lords, on the information so far provided by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, it has not proved possible to identify Hugo Sofia.

My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, aware that a gentleman calling himself by this name went to the offices of the Argentine Human Rights Committee in London and asked a number of questions which excited the suspicions of the people there, until finally he was identified by a young lady who had, herself, been tortured in this institution and who recognised him because she had been interrogated by the so-called Hugo Sofia for a period of no less than five hours? Would the noble Lord not agree that it is a matter for strong objection that the Argentine Government should send spies to the United Kingdom to investigate the activities of exiles from their country? Would the noble Lord consider making representations to the Argentine Government against this practice?

My Lords, although obviously we should take into consideration anything that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, might say to us, I think, with great respect to him, that what he has said would be a rather fragile basis upon which to make representations to the Argentinian authorities. If we have any more details about Mr. Sofia, we shall certainly go into the matter. If the allegations made by the noble Lord are shown to be justified, there are circumstances in which this gentleman could be deported from this country. However, that would require far more information than has so far been made available to us.

My Lords, would the Minister agree that if, in fact, this gentleman came to this country under a false passport, he would be committing a criminal offence in view of the ruling of the Divisional Court in the case of Maqbool Hussein in May 1976? Further, would the Minister be prepared to consider evidence supplied by the young lady to whom I have made reference already if I were to submit it to him?

My Lords, we should be glad to look at any information made available to us by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. The present problem is that we have not had such information. If it were made available to us, we should be glad to look at it.