July 11, 2008 / 11:07 PM / 10 years ago

Argentine police get life term in 'dirty war' case

BUENOS AIRES, July 11 (Reuters) - An Argentine court sentenced two former police officers on Friday to life in prison for participating in the 1976 "dirty war" massacre of 30 people whose bodies were thrown into a pile and dynamited.

Former police captains Juan Carlos Lapuyole and Carlos Gallone were found guilty of kidnapping and murder charges, the first convictions in the case. A third former officer was acquitted.

The massacre took place at the start of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, during which human rights groups say up to 30,000 suspected leftists were abducted and killed. An independent commission confirmed about 11,000 deaths.

The 30 victims of the "Fatima massacre" were loaded on trucks and driven to a town north of Buenos Aires, where they were blindfolded and shot in the head at close range. Court documents said their corpses were then dynamited.

During the previous administration of President Nestor Kirchner, Argentina’s Congress and Supreme Court scrapped amnesty laws shielding hundreds of military and police officials from prosecution in connection with dirty war-era crimes. That resulted in the reopening of dozens of human rights investigations. (Reporting by Hilary Burke; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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