Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, and other former military officers were sentenced [El Mundo report, in Spanish] to prison on Friday for their roles in Operation Condor in the 1970s. The criminal court in Buenos Aires, composed of judges Adrián Grünberg, Óscar Amirante, Pablo Laufer and Ricardo Ángel Basílico, handed Bignone a 20-year prison sentence on top of his previous prison sentences for crimes against humanity. The trial began with 22 defendants, but five died or were absolved. According to attorneys for advocacy groups, this was an important step in human rights because “it is the first time the existence of Operation Condor has been proved [Guardian report] in court”. Operation Condor [AP report] was a multi-state campaign that created and sanctioned death squads from South American countries to kidnap, torture and kill political opponents from each others’ countries who had fled their country of origin. Evidence was produced during the trials that showed the US was aware of Operation Condor and played a role.
Former participants of former dictatorships of South America have been held accountable for their past crimes in the last decade. In February 2015, France’s highest appeals court overturned [JURIST report] a lower court decision to allow the extradition of a former police officer to Argentina for alleged crimes against humanity during the country’s “dirty war.” In October 2014, a Buenos Aires court handed down [JURIST report] a 23-year prison sentence to Reynaldo Bignone for the kidnapping and torture of 32 factory workers. In January 2014, the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in DaimlerChrysler AG (Daimler) v. Bauman that Daimler did not have to face suit in California for alleged human rights violations by a subsidiary that took place in Argentina during the nation’s 1976-1983 “Dirty War.” The Supreme Court of Chile approved [JURIST report] extradition of former Argentine Judge Otilio Romano for human rights crimes in 2013.