Seven retired military officers were sentenced on Friday to life in prison for various human rights abuses committed during the "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder, JURIST news archive] in Argentina from 1976-1983. News of the sentences was released in a statement [AFP report] by the Center of Judicial Information, an office affiliated with the Argentina Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish], on Saturday. The seven officers were found guilty on charges of kidnapping, torture and homicide for their treatment of 69 prisoners who were held at a navy base in Mar del Plata, south of Buenos Aires. Four members of the navy were also sentenced to 25, 14, 12 and three years in prison, and two top police prefects were sentenced to 14 and 10 years for related human rights abuses. The case was originally brought against 16 people by the relatives of victims and human rights groups, but two of the defendants died and another was absolved for health reasons while awaiting trial.
The "Dirty War" was a seven-year military dictatorship, under which many government opponents as well as ordinary citizens were "disappeared" and taken to government facilities to be tortured and eventually killed. In December an Argentine court sentenced former Interior Minister Jaime Smart to life in prison [JURIST report] for murder and detention of citizens. Smart was the first civilian minister to be convicted of crimes during the "Dirty War," but other civilians and police officers had been previously convicted. Two of Argentina's former dictators were also convicted in July of kidnapping children [JURIST report] during the war and sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison. One of the dictators, Jorge Rafeal Videla, had already been sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in 2010 for crimes against humanity during the war.