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Argentina and operation Condor

Reynaldo Bignone sentenced to life in jail

Life in jail for Reynaldo Bignone, Argentina's dictator from 1982 to 1983. The man was sentenced for 23 crimes against the humanity perpetrated at the military base of Campo de Mayo, used as a detention and torture centre against political opponents. 

More than 5,000 prisoners were interned in this camp. The majority were pregnant women, whose children were abducted soon after birth, to be put into the custody of families close to the regime. In 2010 Bignone was sentenced to 25 years in jail for the murder and torture against political prisoners, plus 15 years for the kidnapping and forging the identities of the children of the missing people, the so-called desaparecidos.

"The curate", as Bignone was called for his devotion to the Catholic Church, has been found guilty by the Federal Court of San Martin for kidnappings and forced abductions. Together with him also other militaries guilty for the crimes in Campo de Mayo have been convicted: Santiago Riverso, Luis Sadi Pepa, Eduardo Corrado and Carlos Macedra.

The verdict came a few years after the beginning of a historic trial, aimed at establishing the responsibilities and the cooperation among dictatorial regimes of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay within Operation Condor, a plan adopted by South-American regimes in the Seventies and Eighties to eliminate opponents. During this Operation, the dictatorships demanded the capture, extradition or murder of their dissidents in the territories of the other regimes, and on some occasions the military of the different countries took part jointly in abductions and torture cases.

Bignone is one of the 25 defendants in this trial, with people like Jorge Videla (Argentina's dictator from 1976 to 1981), Luciano Benjamin Menendez (Argentinian military known as the "Hyena", responsible for the detention centre) and Uruguayan former military Manuel Cordero. The only absent was the former dictator of Peru Francisco Morales Bermudez, as Peru's Supreme Court denied the extradition demanded by Argentina. 

The trial opened on 5 March in Buenos Aires and will last for two years, with over 500 witnesses.

19 March 2013

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