Ten Argentines sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes under dictatorship
AFP .
@New Vision

An Argentine court on Wednesday sentenced 10 former members of the military and police to life in prison for crimes committed during the South American country's military dictatorship.

They were found guilty of homicide, kidnapping, torture and rape, in a trial known as the "Campo de Mayo Mega-case," after the name of the military base where the crimes occurred.

The defendants watched the reading of the unanimous court decision via video conference, while the courtroom was filled with victims' relatives and members of human rights organizations.

Among the 350 victims of the Campo de Mayo military base were 14 pregnant women whose children were stolen after birth.

The organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo estimates that during Argentina's dictatorship, about 400 babies were born in captivity and illegally handed over to other people. Only about one-third have discovered the identity of their original family.

The list of victims also included many workers and union delegates from factories located in an industrial zone north of Buenos Aires, including those of German car manufacturer Mercedes Benz and the American Ford Motor Company.

The trial began in 2019 and was mostly held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially there were 22 defendants, but two died during the proceedings. Most had already been convicted in other trials for crimes against humanity.

Former general Santiago Riveros, 98, was the most senior officer sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment, albeit to be served under house arrest.

Riveros was also given a life sentence on Monday, along with three other soldiers, for his role in the so-called "death flights," in which drugged detainees were thrown into the ocean from planes that had taken off from Campo de Mayo.

Since laws granting amnesty for crimes committed under the military dictatorship were annulled in 2006, 278 sentences have been handed down for crimes against humanity across the country, with 1,070 people convicted, many of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment.

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