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Argentina ex-general sentenced to life for 'Dirty War' crimes

An Argentine federal court on Thursday sentenced former general Eduardo Cabanillas to life in prison for his involvement in the nation's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Cabanillas, who ran a secret Buenos Aires facility known as Automotores Orletti, was convicted of murder [RTT report], torture and illegal imprisonment of its detainees. 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. The court also sentenced several ex-officials who went on trial [JURIST report] with Cabanillas in June for their involvement in the crimes. Two former intelligence agents, Honorio Martinez and Eduardo Ruffo, each received 25-year prison terms, and former military intelligence officer Raul Guglielminetti received a 20-year sentence. 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. Last month, former general Luciano Benjamin Menendez, already serving a life sentence, was sentenced to an additional life sentence [JURIST report] for the attack and murder of five urban guerrilla group members. Also in March, 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. Videla's trial commenced in July after he was charged with an additional 49 counts [JURIST reports] of murder, kidnapping and torture in May following the identification of 40 bodies in Buenos Aires in 2009. Also 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.

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