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Argentina ex-secret agent arrested on 'Dirty War' abuse charges

Argentine authorities on Monday arrested former secret service agent Miguel Angel Furci on charges of human rights abuses committed during the nation's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Furci, a former agent of the Secretariat of State Intelligence (SIDE), was charged with 70 kidnappings [Terra report, in Spanish] and the torture of detainees at a secret Buenos Aires facility known as Automotores Orletti. The detentions were part of "Operation Condor" [BBC backgrounder], a campaign by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay to round up left-wing dissidents. At a hearing Monday, Furci admitted to serving in the SIDE and acknowledged the existence of the secret prison. Furci has already served a seven-year sentence for a 1976 kidnapping. His trial is scheduled to start [BBC report] on June 3.

Argentina continues to prosecute those accused of committing human rights abuses during the Dirty War. Last week, the Spanish government extradited [JURIST report] pilot Julio Alberto Poch to Argentina to face trial for his alleged role. Poch was a navy officer at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School [backgrounder, in Spanish], one of the most notorious detention centers of the military dictatorship, and is believed to have piloted flights known as "death flights," which were used to dump the military junta's political opponents into the Plata River and the Atlantic Ocean. Also last week, former Argentine military junta leader Jorge Rafael Videla [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] was charged [JURIST report] with an additional 49 counts of murder, kidnapping, and torture for crimes allegedly committed during Argentina's Dirty War. Last month, a federal court in Argentina sentenced [JURIST report] former president and military general Reynaldo Bignone [JURIST news archive] to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses during his 1982 to 1983 presidency. During the Dirty War, 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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