Argentina: ex-dictators sentenced in baby thefts

Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla was condemned to 50 years in prison on July 5 for the abduction of babies of "disappeared" dissidents. The Federal Oral Tribunal 6 in Buenos Aires found that Videla oversaw of a "systematic practice" of seizing the offspring of dissidents who were captured while pregnant, estimating some 400 such cases. Videla was found directly criminally liable for 35 cases. Another former dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, was sentenced to 15 years on related charges. Most of the mothers were held at ESMA—the notorious Naval Mechanics School in Buenos Aires. Eight other former officers involved in overseeing the ESMA were also convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 40 years. Two were acquitted. Videla and Bignone are both in their 80s, and were already serving life terms for the abduction and torture of dissidents. (Clarin, Buenos Aires, July 6; BBC News, AFP, July 5)

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