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Former Argentine dictator Gneral Videla sentenced to life in prison

Thursday, December 23rd 2010 - 08:09 UTC
Full article 13 comments
Videla insisted all along the Junta was fighting ‘subersives’ and said subordinates “were only following orders” Videla insisted all along the Junta was fighting ‘subersives’ and said subordinates “were only following orders”

The strongman of Argentina's 1976-1983 military Junta General Jorge Videla, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for crimes against humanity committed during the so called “dirty war” against left-wing dissidents.

Videla, an 85-year-old former army general who ruled between 1976 and 1981, had acknowledged his actions but denied they were human rights violations, insisting he was an unjustly convicted “political prisoner”.

The sentencing judge, Maria Elba Martinez, described him as “a manifestation of state terrorism.”

She ordered him incarcerated for the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary under civilian, not military, rules.
Another junta officer, General Luciano Menendez, 83, was also given a life term, added to other, identical sentences for human rights crimes carried out when he headed an army corp responsible for 11 provinces.

They were among 30 people -- mostly police and military officers -- tried for the junta's atrocities. Sentences have ranged between six years and life behind bars.

Videla came to power at the head of the military junta after masterminding a 1976 coup that toppled the government of Isabel Peron. The brutal regime was accused of making some 30,000 people “disappear,” including by throwing them from aircraft in night flights over the sea.

According to human righst groups it operated 500 clandestine detention centers across the country where tens of thousands of people were held, many subjected to torture and death.

Argentina's military government fell in 1983, a year after Videla's successor, Leopoldo Galtieri, waged an unsuccessful war against Britain for the Falkland Islands.

Videla's trial began July 2 with the ex-dictator acknowledging responsibility for “cruel” acts on his watch but refusing to recognize the court.

In a pre-sentence hearing Tuesday he repeated that position: “I assume full responsibility.... My subordinates were only following orders,” he said.

“I claim the honor of victory and I regret the consequences,” Videla said, emphasizing he saw Argentina's dirty war in the 1970s as a fight against “subversives”.

The charges against him included the abduction, torture and murder of 40 people, including a German student, Rolf Stawowiok, whose disappearance in 1978 prompted Berlin to ask for Videla's extradition.

The former strongman was previously tried and sentenced in 1985 in Argentina to life in prison, but was pardoned five years later by then-president Carlos Menem. A 2007 verdict finding Videla's pardon unconstitutional set the scene for the new trial, which included charges that his regime stole babies from dissident prisoners.


Categories: Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • stick up your junta

    The wheels of justice grind slowly in Argentina, and after all Britain did
    to bring the Junta down in the first place

    Dec 23rd, 2010 - 08:56 am 0
  • falklandlad

    Justice served, but at 85 years old! There is little doubt that the adventurisms of Videla's junta inflicted a horrendous, and indescribeable tragedy in Argentina, and but for a thin veneer of possible good grace, a similar routing of Falkland Islanders could easily have been inflicted. It was all too easy following the Argentine invasion in 1982, to experience how Argentine military wished to inflict the same disappearing punishment on Falklands activists. But, will the whole of the Dirty War, without? I doubt it. Will all the perpetrators be brough to justice? I doubt that too. Sentencing Videla and some immediate cohorts will bring a little political satisfaction to those in power today, but not closure for the bereaved families.

    Dec 23rd, 2010 - 08:59 am 0
  • Be serious

    Reading some of the comments on this site, it is only a matter of time before a new generation of Facists come to power in Buenos Aires.

    Dec 23rd, 2010 - 04:55 pm 0
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