An Argentine court sentenced former general Luciano Benjamin Menendez [Project Disappeared profile; JURIST news archive] to life in prison on Wednesday for the 1976 attack and murder of five urban guerrilla group members during the country's 1976-1983 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Menendez is already currently serving another life sentence [JURIST report] for the 1977 kidnapping, torture and killing of four political dissidents. Menendez, a former general for the Third Army Corps, commanded the secret prison "La Perla" for Argentina's military dictatorship. A panel of judges found him guilty of executing a violent police raid [La Nacion report, in Spanish] on a home where members of an anti-government group were meeting. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" during the government's campaign against suspected dissidents during the country's Dirty War.
Argentina continues to prosecute those accused of committing human rights abuses during the Dirty War. Earlier this month, an Argentine court commenced the trial of former dictators Jorge Videla [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] and Reynaldo Bignone [JURIST news archive] for allegedly overseeing a systematic plan to steal babies [JURIST report] born to political prisoners. In December, Videla was sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] for crimes against humanity. In June, trial proceedings were commenced for five ex-military officials allegedly responsible for the death of 65 left-wing activists [JURIST report]. In May, Argentine authorities arrested [JURIST report] former secret service agent Miguel Angel Furci on charges of human rights abuses. Furci, a former agent of the Secretariat of State Intelligence (SIDE), was charged with 70 kidnappings and the torture of detainees at Orletti. Also in May, the Spanish government extradited [JURIST report] pilot Julio Alberto Poch to Argentina to face trial for his alleged role. In April, a federal court in Argentina sentenced [JURIST report] former president and military general Bignone to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses during his 1982 to 1983 presidency.