Former Argentine military dictator Jorge Videla has died in prison from natural causes. Head of a military junta which organized a coup in 1976, he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.
Up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and "disappeared" by the military during a so-called "Dirty War" campaign against liberals and leftists under Videla's rule at the head of a junta from 1976 to 1981. Suspected opponents were swept into secret prisons, tortured and murdered.
Videla, 87, came to power in a 1976 military coup. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for crimes against humanity: the disappearance of 31 prisoners. In 2011 he was given a separate 50 year sentence for the theft of children born to female prisoners.
He showed no remorse for the junta's record of human rights abuses. In a recent trial he said "As I have done before, I wish to say that this court lacks jurisdiction to judge me for cases involving the army in the anti-subversive struggle."
Federal Prison Service Director Victor Hortel said Videla died Friday morning in the Marcos Paz prison southwest of Buenos Aires. "Last night he didn't feel well. He didn't want to eat and this morning they found him dead in his cell," Cecilia Pando, the head of the Association of Family and Friends of Political Prisoners, told reporters.
jm/dr (AP, AFP)