An Argentine court on Thursday sentenced former Interior Minister Jaime Smart to life in prison for crimes against humanity during the nation's 1976-1983 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Smart is the first civilian minister [La Nacion report, in Spanish] to be convicted for "Dirty War" crimes, although other civilians and police officers have been convicted in previous proceedings. Smart was specifically convicted for the murder of Jorge Rubinstein and detaining approximately 43 people in "circuit camps." Twenty-two others were also convicted [BBC report] of various crimes committed during the "Dirty War," including the former chief of investigative police.
In July Argentina's Poder Judicial de la Nacion sentenced two former Argentine dictators [JURIST report] to a total of 65 years in prison for their involvement in the systematic kidnapping of babies from leftist activists detained and killed during the "Dirty War." Jorge Videla [JURIST news archive], who ruled from 1976 to 1981, was sentenced to 50 years while Reynaldo Bignone [JURIST news archive], who ruled from 1982 to 1983, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Several other military officials involved in the kidnappings also received sentences of up to 40 years. Smart was the Interior Minister under most of Videla's reign.