[JURIST] A court in Rome convicted five former officers of the Argentina military Wednesday on charges of torturing, kidnapping and murdering three Italian citizens during Argentina's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. All five defendants, who were tried in absentia, received life sentences. Argentinean officials have yet to confirm whether they will release the convicted men to Italian authorities. Four of the former officers, Jorge Eduardo Acosta, Alfredo Ignacio Astiz, Hector Antonio Febres and Antonio Vanek, are being held in Argentina on federal charges for various "Dirty War" crimes, while the fifth defendant, Jorge Raul Vildoza, is at large. Several human rights groups applauded the decision, including the Asociacion Madres de Plaza de Mayo [advocacy website, in Spanish].
The decision marks the second guilty verdict [Guardian report] handed down to alleged "Dirty War" criminals by the Italian courts, which have authority to prosecute defendants in absentia for political crimes perpetrated by foreign nationals. AP has more.