An Argentinian court has handed life sentences to 29 former soldiers for crimes against humanity during the country’s 1976-83 military dictatorship.
Argentina has sentenced 29 people to life sentences in a trial involving some 800 cases of kidnapping, torture and murder during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Many defendants, including former Navy Captain Alfredo Astiz, know as the “Angel of Death”, and Captain Jorge Acosta, known as “the Tiger”, were already serving life sentences for Dirty War crimes committed at the ESMA Naval Mechanics School that was converted into a clandestine prison and torture centre,
For the first time in the so-called ESMA mega-case, however, Wednesday’s sentence included convictions for “death flights,” when people were drugged and their bodies dumped in the River Plate.
“Giving sedatives to our loved ones before or during the flight before throwing them in the river or the sea is unbelievable; it’s dismal,” said Lita Boitano, head of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons.
Boitano, who lost two children during the dictatorship, was among the hundreds of people gathered outside the federal courthouse in Buenos Aires listening to the convictions. They took more than three hours to read.
In addition to the life sentences, 19 people received jail terms of eight to 25 years. Six were cleared of wrongdoing, including Juan Alemann, a finance minister during the dictatorship and one of few civilians who had been accused of planning rights abuses.
Human rights groups estimate Argentina’s military government killed up to 30,000 people during the dictatorship. Most of their bodies were never found.