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Former Argentina dictator goes on trial for 'Dirty War' rights violations

An Argentine court on Friday commenced the trial of former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], who is facing several human rights violations for his role in the nation's "Dirty War" [JURIST news archive]. 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]. In 2006, a federal judge ruled that the presidential pardon was unconstitutional [JURIST report], allowing criminal charges to be brought against the former dictator. Videla, who is now 84, is also facing charges in Italy, Spain, France and Germany [JURIST reports] involving the deaths of their citizens during the Dirty War.

Videla was charged with an additional 49 counts [JURIST report] of murder, kidnapping and torture in May after the identification of 40 bodies in Buenos Aires last year. Videla has been in prison since 2008 while an investigation is underway for his role in the abduction of children born to political prisoners and forced disappearance victims during Argentina's Dirty War. A court revoked the house arrest conditions he had been granted in 1998 when the investigation began. Despite his age, Videla is now being held in a common cell in Cordoba. During the period Videla was head of the military junta, an estimated 90,000 civilians were killed or disappeared.

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