Argentine ex-dictator sentenced to life in prison

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 22, 2010 23:56

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Former dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the torture and murder of 31 prisoners in 1976. It was the first conviction for the military junta leader in 25 years of democracy, and prompted loud applause in a courtroom packed with relatives of the victims.

Videla, who led the military coup that installed Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship, is considered the architect of a dirty war that eliminated thousands of people in a crackdown on armed leftist guerrillas and their supporters.

The judges found Videla "criminally responsible" for the torture and deaths of 31 prisoners who were pulled from civilian jail cells and officially "shot while trying to escape" as the military consolidated its power in the months after the coup.


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