April 25, 2007 / 8:51 PM / 10 years ago

Argentine court overturns "Dirty War" pardon

2 Min Read

<p>An Argentine Army official takes down the portrait of former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla from one of the galleries of the Argentine Colegio Militar (Military School) in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2004. A federal court on Wednesday struck down a presidential pardon and restored human rights abuse convictions for two leaders of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship. The ruling forces former Gen. Jorge Videla and former Adm. Emilio Massera to serve out life sentences handed down in 1985 after they were convicted of devising a systematic plan by the military to abduct, torture and execute suspected opponents of the regime.Stringer</p>

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A federal court on Wednesday struck down a presidential pardon and restored human rights abuse convictions for two leaders of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship.

The ruling forces former Gen. Jorge Videla and former Adm. Emilio Massera to serve out life sentences handed down in 1985 after they were convicted of devising a systematic plan by the military to abduct, torture and execute suspected opponents of the regime.

The court's decision is symbolic since under Argentine law Videla and Massera would both serve their sentences at home because they are elderly. Both are already under house arrest in other cases.

The two were among the junta leaders that ruled Argentina when, according to human rights groups, some 30,000 people were either killed or disappeared during a military campaign to snuff out leftist dissent.

Videla and Massera, both 81, currently face charges they also devised a military plan to hand over children born to slain dissidents to members of the armed forces.

Argentina's military junta leaders were found guilty of rights abuses and sentenced to life in prison in 1985. But former President Carlos Menem, in a move he said was aimed at fostering national reconciliation, pardoned them five years later.

In 2005, Argentina's Supreme Court repealed two amnesty laws shielding military officers from prosecution, clearing the way for hundreds to be tried.

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