From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Joy in Argentina as justice catches Videla
Friday 06 July 2012
by Our Foreign Desk
Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison on Thursday for a systematic programme of stealing babies.
The children were taken from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta’s war on left-wingers three decades ago.
Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and will serve 15 years.
Both are already in prison for other human rights abuses.
“This is a historic day. Today legal justice has been made real – never again the justice of one’s own hands, which the repressors were known for,” prominent rights activist Tati Almeida said outside the courthouse, where a jubilant crowd watched on a big screen and cheered each sentence.
During the period military and police officials unleashed a campaign of terror to remove any trace of the armed leftist guerilla movement they said threatened the country’s future.
The “dirty war” eventually claimed 13,000 victims according to official records.
Bignone ordered the military to destroy evidence of dirty war activities, and the junta denied any knowledge of baby thefts, let alone responsibility for the disappearances of political prisoners.
Many were pregnant women who were disappeared shortly after giving birth in clandestine maternity wards.
Videla denied in his testimony that there had been any systematic plan to remove the babies, and claimed that prisoners had used their unborn children as “human shields” in their fight against the state.
Nine others, mostly former military and police officials, were also accused in the trial, which focused on 34 baby thefts. Seven were convicted and two were found not guilty.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group has since used DNA evidence to help 106 people who were stolen from prisoners as babies recover their true identities and 26 of these cases were raised as part of this trial.
The group estimates that as many as 500 babies could have been stolen during the period.
Chinese police arrested 802 people on suspicion of child trafficking and rescued 181 children in an operation spanning 15 provinces, the Ministry of Public Security said today: here.