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Argentina judge rules 'Dirty War' pardon for junta leader unconstitutional

[JURIST] A federal judge in Argentina [JURIST news archive] Tuesday ruled unconstitutional a presidential pardon extended to Jorge Rafael Videla [Wikipedia profile], who prosecutors say led Argentina's military junta during the worst periods of the so-called "Dirty War" [Globalsecurity.org backgrounder] crackdown on dissidents between 1976 and 1983 that resulted in an official "missing" count of 13,000 people. Videla was tried and convicted in 1985 along with eight other junta leaders on abduction, torture, and murder charges, but was pardoned in 1990 by former president Carlos Menem [BBC profile]. On Monday, the same judge ruled two other pardons unconstitutional. Videla, who is accused of "disappearing" a businessman and his son between 1976 and 1977, is expected to appeal the ruling to the Argentina Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish].

Last year, the Supreme Court annulled controversial amnesty laws [JURIST report] passed in the 1980s aimed at easing the national transition from a dictatorship to a democracy by protecting low-ranking security officers from prosecution for possible Dirty War crimes. In August, an Argentine court convicted [JURIST report] a former police officer of human rights violations during the Dirty War, and arrested three others [JURIST report]. The trial of another former official, who was the first to stand trial [JURIST report] since the laws were annulled, is still underway [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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