Argentina: two generals get life

On Aug. 28 a federal criminal court in the northwestern Argentine province of Tucumán sentenced former generals Antonio Domingo Bussi and Luciano Benjamin Menendez to life in prison for the kidnapping, torture and disappearance of ex-senator Guillermo Vargas Aignasse in 1976, during the coup that started the country’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

Menendez had already received a life sentence in a different case in Cordoba in July. Along with six other military officers and a civilian, he was found guilty in the kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial execution of four people in 1977. The court agreed to let the 82-year-old Bussi serve his sentence at home, at least until a further decision is made in early September. Bussi was the de facto governor of Tucumán during the military regime and served as elected governor 1995-1999 after the return of democracy. Claiming he was in poor health, Bussi appeared before the court in a wheelchair with a plastic tube in his nose. He didn’t express regret for the crime, but he cried during the Aug. 28 sentencing and said: “My physical sufferings don’t allow me to confront this ultimate combat.”

The decision to let Bussi serve his sentence at home produced clashes outside the courthouse between security forces and human rights and leftist groups, resulting in some injuries. (Adital, Aug. 29; La Jornada, Mexico, Aug. 29 from correspondent)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 31

See our last posts on Argentina and the Dirty War.