Former Argentina president goes on trial for 'Dirty War' rights abuses

[JURIST] Former Argentine president and general Reynaldo Bignone went on trial [press release, in Spanish] Monday for crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated during Argentina's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The allegations, which include illegal arrest, torture, and killing of dissidents, stem from the 56 confirmed cases of torture at the Campo de Mayo military base outside Buenos Aires. An Argentinian judge ordered Bignone's arrest and ruled that he would face criminal charges [JURIST reports] in March 2007. Bignone, 81, is being tried along with five other Argentine generals, including Santiago Omar Riveros, who was convicted of human rights abuses [JURIST report] in August and sentenced to life in prison for killing 15-year-old Floreal Avellaneda and detaining his mother during the dictatorship. Witness testimony is set to begin November 10, and the trial is expected to last until March 2010.

Last month, an Argentinian court sentenced [JURIST report] retired general Jorge Olivera Rovere and retired colonel Jose Menendez to life in prison for crimes committed during the "Dirty War." Last year, a court convicted [JURIST report] former general Luciano Benjamin Mendendez and another former general and sentenced them to life terms for kidnapping, torturing, and murdering Peronist politician Guillermo Vargas Aignasse in 1976 during the coup. Also in 2008, an Argentine court sentenced [JURIST report] Luciano Benjamin Menendez and four others to life in prison for the 1977 kidnapping, torture, and killing of four political dissidents during the "Dirty War." In 2005, Argentina's Supreme Court struck down amnesty laws [JURIST report] adopted in the 1980s to deter military insurrection against the democratic government, prompting the government to reopen hundreds of human rights cases. During the "Dirty War," spanning between 1976 and 1983, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" in a government-sponsored campaign against suspected dissidents.

 

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