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Argentina revokes generals' pardon
Court rules two military dictators must complete their life sentences in jail.
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2007 04:07 GMT
Videla, right, headed the military junta
which seized power in 1976
[AFP]
A court in Argentina has overturned a 1990 pardon given to two former military dictators saying they must continue to serve life sentences for human rights abuses.
 
Jorge Videla, a former president, and Eduardo Massera, a navy chief, were leaders of the junta that waged a "dirty war" against political opponents in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Official reports say around 9,000 people were killed, although human rights groups put the death toll closer to 30,000.
 
On Wednesday the Argentine federal criminal court declared the 1990 amnesties given to the two men were unconstitutional.
Then president Carlos Menem granted the pardons to "close a sad and black stage of Argentine history".
 
The decision, five years after both were sentenced to life in a military prison, sparked widespread protests.
 
Videla was originally found guilty of 66 homicides, the torture of 93 other people and the illegal confinement of more than 300.
 
Massera was convicted of three killings, the torture of 12 people and the illegal confinement of 69 dissidents.
 
Announcing its decision on Wednesday, the court did not rule on pardons granted to other convicted military chiefs, Orlando Agosti, Roberto Viola and Armando Lambruschini, who have since died.
 
The current government led by Nestor Kirchner has reopened hundreds of human rights cases since a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that struck down 1980s laws granting blanket amnesty to people involved in official repression.
 
Videla, who was de facto president until 1981 and is now aged 81, is currently under house arrest related to other cases.
 
On Tuesday an Argentine court denied Videla's extradition to Germany for prosecution in the 1977 killing of a German activist.
 
Spain also seeks his and Massera's extradition.
 
After a stroke in 2002, Massera won a court ruling that he was mentally unfit for trial on charges of stealing babies born to jailed dissidents.
 
The military surrendered power to an elected civilian government in December 1983 after the country's disastrous defeat to British forces in the Falklands War.
Source:
Agencies
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