An Argentine federal court concluded a human rights trial on Thursday against military officers during the dictatorship era. The court in Córdoba, Argentina, acquitted [La Nacion report, in Spanish] five defendants and sentenced 28 to life and 10 to between two-and-a-half and 21 years in prison. The trial focused [NYT report] on 20 cases from torture centers in Córdoba and involved 716 victims. It was the first time authorities were able to prosecute cases involving death squads that operated before the 1976-83 military dictatorship. The defendants were found guilty of torturing, murdering or stealing newborn babies. One defendant known as “The Hyena,” General Luciando Menendez, was found guilty [DW report] of 52 homicides, 260 kidnappings, 656 instances of torture, and 82 disappearances of detainees. His nickname came from laughing while torturing his victims and is already serving eleven life sentences for his crimes.
Former participants of former dictatorship of South America have been held accountable for their past crimes in the last decade. In May Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, and other former military officers were sentenced [JURIST report] to prison for their roles in Operation Condor in the 1970s. In February, France’s highest appeals court overturned [JURIST report] a lower court decision to seek the extradition of a former police officer to Argentina for alleged crimes against humanity during the country’s “dirty war.” In 2014 a federal judge in Argentina requested [JURIST report] that Spain arrest and extradite 20 former Spanish officials suspected of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Also in 2014, a Buenos Aires court handed [JURIST report] down a 23-year prison sentence to Bignone, the last Argentinian military president of the country’s dictatorship, for the kidnapping and torture of 32 factory workers.