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Argentina ex-generals convicted of murdering senator in 'dirty war'

[JURIST] Two former generals were convicted Thursday of killing a senator during the so-called "dirty war" in Argentina [JURIST news archive] and have been sentenced to life terms of house arrest. A court in Tucuman province found Antonio Bussi [New York Times profile] and Luciano Menendez [Project Disappeared profile and materials, in Spanish] guilty of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Guillermo Vargas Aignasse in 1976, during the coup that began a seven-year military dictatorship [GlobalSecurity.org backgrounder]. Prosecutor Alfredo Terraf had sought maximum penalties for both men, who were sentenced to house arrest because of their advanced age. Bussi, 82, was quoted [AFP report] as telling the court that he had been "politically persecuted" for his role in a "just and necessary war." Menendez, 81, received a separate life sentence [JURIST report] last month when he and four others were convicted of the 1977 kidnapping, torture and killing of four political dissidents. Menendez, who commanded the secret prison called La Perla [HRT backgrounder], was originally taken into custody in 2005 after a judge ordered his arrest [JURIST report]. AP has more. From Buenos Aires, La Nación has local coverage, in Spanish.

As many as 30,000 people were kidnapped or "disappeared" during the Argentine military dictatorship. In 2005, Argentina's Supreme Court struck down amnesty laws [JURIST report] adopted in the 1980s to protect potential defendants, prompting the government to reopen hundreds of human rights cases. In March, Argentine politician and former police chief Luis Abelardo Patti was also arrested for crimes allegedly committed during the period. In May, Juan Evaristo Puthod, a victim of the violent suppression, was kidnapped but later released [JURIST reports] before testifying in a third case.

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