Thursday, December 23, 2010

Videla, Argentine Dirty War Dictator, Gets Life

read here: Jorge Videla, Argentina Ex-Dictator, Sentenced To Life In Prison

Former dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the torture and murder of 31 prisoners, most of whom who were "shot while trying to escape" in the months after his military coup.

The conviction was Videla's first in 25 years for crimes against humanity, thrilling relatives who packed the courtroom, holding up grainy black-and-white pictures of the victims and shouting "murderers" at the defendants. Most of the two-dozen former military and police officials who were tried with Videla also received life sentences.

Videla, who led the military coup that installed Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship, is considered the architect of a dirty war that eliminated [i.e. murdered] thousands of people in a crackdown on armed leftist guerrillas and their supporters.

The judges found Videla "criminally responsible" for the deaths of the prisoners, who were transferred from civilian jail cells to a clandestine prison where they were repeatedly tortured under interrogation before being killed.

Videla told the court that Argentine society demanded the crackdown to prevent a Marxist revolution and complained that "terrorists" now run the country.

Videla must serve his sentence in a civilian prison, the judges decided, ruling out the privileges he enjoyed after he was first convicted of crimes against humanity in 1985, as Argentina was struggling to return to democracy. Videla served just five years of a life sentence in a military prison before former President Carlos Menem granted him and other junta leaders amnesty.

According to the New York Times (in extremely brief coverage), Videla, in a statement to the court on the last day of his trial, said
“yesterday’s enemies are in power and from there, they are trying to establish a Marxist regime.”

Former Argentina dictator Jorge Videla attends the last day of his trial in Cordoba.

Videla at his trial's conclusion

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