Former Argentine president and dictator Jorge Videla took the stand earlier this week to defend his regime. He took full responsibility for the “Dirty War” of 1976 to 1983 that resulted in the disappearances of tens of thousands of dissidents, calling it an “internal war against subversive forces.” Videla is on trial for the murders of 32 political prisoners and the abduction and torture of six others. He is is also scheduled to face trial in September for stealing 33 babies of political opponents, and faces charges in Spain, France, Italy and Germany for the murder of their citizens in Argentina.
Videla was sentenced to life in jail in after his regime ended, but his sentence was overturned when President Carlos Menem pardoned him in 1990. In 2007 Argentina’s parliament declared the pardon to be unconstitutional, which the Supreme Court confirmed in April.
The BBC points out that since 84 year-old Videla is already serving a life sentence, a new conviction will not result in any more years in prison. However the trial has brought justice, as a number of prominent figures in the Dirty War were convicted on Thursday. General Luciano Menendez and former police intelligence chief Roberto Albornoz were given life in prison for crimes against humanity, and former police officers Luis Armando de Candido and Carlos Esteban de Candido were sentenced to 18 and 3 years in prison respectively. One victim’s mother declared that the sentences finally gave her a sense of “enormous tranquility.”
About 20 human rights cases stemming from the Dirty War will go to trial this year.
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