Alfredo Astiz, dubbed Blond Angel of Death, has been accused of human rights abuses during 1976-1983 military rule

A court in Argentina has sentenced 12 former military and police officials to life in prison for crimes against
humanity committed during the country's 1976-1983 dictatorship.

The men were convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing leftist dissidents at a torture centre called the Navy Mechanics School.

Among those sentenced was Alfredo Astiz, a 59-year-old former navy officer dubbed "the Angel of Death".

Astiz is accused of participating in the disappearance, torture and murder of two French nuns, a journalist and three founders of a human rights group that he infiltrated while spying for the dictatorship.

Official figures say 9,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed in what became known as Argentina's "Dirty War," but many believe the real number to be closer to 30,000.

Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo, reporting from Buenos Aires, said many families felt the justice was "long overdue".

"There was a lot of emotion in the courtroom, in a general sense justice was being made after so many years," she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies