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28 Argentines get life in prison for dictatorship crimes

August 26, 2016

A former general is among those who have been sentenced to life in prison by an Argentine court. The defendants were all charged with commiting major human rights abuses.

Luciano Benjamin Menendez
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/N. Pisarenko

The court in Cordoba on Thursday handed life sentences to the 28 former military members following a landmark trial that saw 600 people testify.

Among the defendants was 89-year-old former general Luciano Menendez, also known as "The Hyena," who had already been serving 11 life sentences for human rights abuses. He was found guilty this time of 52 homicides, 260 kidnappings, 656 instances of torture, 82 disappearances of detainees. He earned his nickname from laughing as he tortured his victims in the secret prison called La Perla.

All of the defendants had been charged with torturing and killing opponents of the military regime that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In total they were found guilty of torturing, murdering or stealing the newborn babies of more than 700 victims.

Menendez denied the accusations levelled against him, insisting there was no torture of any kind at La Perla. The case first opened in 2012.

Another 10 defendants were given much shorter jail times.

During the dictatorship, some 300,000 political opponents were "disappeared" - many of them remain missing.

blc/rg (dpa, AFP)