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Body of former Argentine dictator Videla taken to morgue

Friday, May 17, 2013 - 00:38

May 18 - The body of former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla is taken to a morgue for an autopsy after his death in prison at the age of 87. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) The body of Jorge Rafael Videla, the former army commander who led Argentina during the bloodiest period of a "Dirty War" dictatorship and was unrepentant about kidnappings and murders ordered by the state, was taken to a Buenos Aires morgue on Friday (May 17), hours after he died in prison at age 87. Videla was the first president to head the military junta that "disappeared" thousands of suspected leftists from 1976 to 1983. He spent his final years behind bars for human rights crimes including the systematic theft of babies born to political prisoners in secret torture centres. A police vehicle carried Videla's body from the prison to the morgue where an autopsy will be performed on orders of Judge Juan Pablo Salas. Earlier in the day, a government spokesman said Videla was believed to have died of natural causes in his jail cell. Rights groups say up to 30,000 people were "disappeared" - a euphemism for kidnapped and murdered - during the dictatorship, which began in March 1976 when Videla and two other military leaders staged a coup against President Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, the widow of former leader Juan Domingo Peron. Argentina's left-wing guerrilla groups had been weakened by the time Videla came to power and he targeted union organizers, students, journalists and anyone else perceived to be associated with communism. Only four years after leaving Argentina's presidential palace, Videla was sentenced to life in prison for human rights abuses under his rule. He spent just five years behind bars because of a pardon granted in 1990 by then-President Carlos Menem. Eight years later, a judge scrapped the pardon. He spent the next 10 years under house arrest before being sent back to prison for a final stretch in 2008. More "dirty war" cases were opened in Argentina during the 2003-2007 presidency of Nestor Kirchner and in subsequent years, and Videla was given several life sentences. During a trial in 2012, Videla was sentenced to 50 years in prison for being the architect of a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners at clandestine detention centres. An unrepentant Videla described himself as a "political prisoner" during the trial.

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Body of former Argentine dictator Videla taken to morgue

Friday, May 17, 2013 - 00:38