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Argentine military dictators on trial for stealing hundreds of babies

Tuesday, March 1st 2011 - 02:46 UTC
Full article 38 comments
An estimated 400 babies were stolen under dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone   and Jorge Videla An estimated 400 babies were stolen under dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone and Jorge Videla

Two former Argentine dictators appeared in court Monday on charges of kidnapping hundreds of babies seized from political prisoners, minutes after birth. Ex rulers Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone alongside with six other former military officers are involved in the court case that is expected to last until the end of the year.

About 80 people are expected to testify on the systematic stealing plan ordered by the top leaders of Argentina's brutal military dictatorship from 1976-1983. Charges were read linked to 34 cases -- one of them concerning a woman who had two children in captivity, for a total of 35 stolen babies.

However authorities say that at least 400 babies were stolen during Argentina’s military dictatorship. Officials say the newborns were taken from jailed dissidents. The children were adopted by families friendly to the military government. To date, 102 people born to vanished dissidents have since recovered their true identities.

Women were interned at wards in the heart of torture centres, including the emblematic Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics (ESMA). The women were kept alive during their pregnancies, only to be summarily killed after giving birth, often dropped alive from military planes into the sea.

A hood was placed over their heads during childbirth so they could not see their babies, who were then handed to a military official or an officer's relative.

“The population had to be 'normalized:' you were either the way you were supposed to be or you were eliminated,” prosecutor Federico Delgado told the court.

“You had to break family ties” between the children and their parents, who were later executed, he added. “It's one of the darkest chapters of Argentina's history.”

Videla, 83, was sentenced to prison for life during a 1985 trial against the junta for crimes against humanity, only to receive amnesty five years later from ex-president Carlos Menem.

The amnesties were annulled during the 2003-2007 presidency of late former leader Nestor Kirchner paving the way for the latest trials.

Bignone, 83, was appointed president during the 1982 Falklands War against Britain. He handed the reins of power over to Social Democrat Raul Alfonsin when Argentina returned to democracy. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, also for crimes against humanity like kidnappings and torture.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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  • Viscount Falkland

    The people of Argentina should use this to understand why the people of the Falkland Islands do not and have not trusted any Argentine politician.The Falkland Islands have a total population of 3000 and these monsters tortured and killed 35,000 of its own citizens ! It was so heartless that it even stole the prisoners babies after they had been raped and tortured for months. It would have been a busy afternoons work for the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics to wipe out the entire population of the Falklands. This is what the people and polititians of Argentina do not understand.We live next to a nation that has probably had more dictators than any other country in the world.

    Mar 01st, 2011 - 10:50 am 0
  • Raul

    Viscount Falklands: Although YOU don't believe it many Argentineans that unfortunately are not expressed it is this forum, they think of the human rights of the Islanders of Malvinas/Falkland to give him a satisfactory solution. We have suffered it with 30.000 missing persons and concentration fields of it finishes it dictatorship, although YOU don't believe it, England collaborates with Galtieri before 1982, in the implementation of the state terrorism with material, technology (purchase of ships and airplanes) and personnel trained in tortures and disappearances in its experience in the fight against the I Exercise Irish Republican. Discover in the Web of International Amnesty, Mothers and Grandmothers of square of May, Pérez Esquivel (I Reward Beginner of the peace) and of other organizations of International human rights and it will be surprised.
    We tell him this without breakawaying since of our responsibilities of 1982 that it was a cruelty, the military ones sought to use the conflict of 1982 hiding the cruelties and you kill them of the state terrorism as this way Margaret Tacher to cover their internal conflict of massive discharges and privatizations months before 1982. As he/she will see nobody it is free of throwing the first stone...

    In spite of everything this doesn't remove that our reclamos of sovereignty is fair, since all this transcends, since it is a I claim very previous to these events, it is a feeling of justice of an immense majority of the Argentinean citizens, covered by these barbarians that I lower the inspiration of the generated Doctrine of national security and imposed by United States and England, they not whipped alone to Argentina but to the rest of Latin America.

    Mar 01st, 2011 - 01:05 pm 0
  • Juanweather


    I would love to know what do you think about the Hitler's Germany and the current Germany, Franco's Spain and current Spain, Mussolini's Italy and the current Italy.

    Mar 01st, 2011 - 01:47 pm 0
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