Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Argentina: More charges against ex-Dirty War strongman

Argentina’s justice system has been sending strong messages to former “Dirty War” officials: you can run but you can’t hide.

Ex-president Jorge Videla will face trial after a federal judge presented him with 49 charges of torture, kidnapping, and murder. Videla is currently serving a life sentence for human rights abuses yet new forensic evidence led to the widening of the case against him.

The new charges issued on Monday are on top of 32 charges of murder and torture of political prisoners as well as a court hearing in September over the illegal kidnappings of 33 babies.

Videla’s court appearances in Mendoza and Buenos Aires will be the first since he was originally convicted in 1985. That sentence had been quashed by a pardon from then-President Carlos Menem yet the Supreme Court last week overturned that decision.

The latest allegations against Videla could lead to him to be tried abroad:
The remains of most of the 40 victims were unearthed by forensic experts last year in Buenos Aires. Among them was Argentina-born German citizen Rolf Stawowiok, who was 20 at the time of his death in 1978…

After the remains were discovered, Germany issued an international arrest warrant for Videla, who is currently serving a life term at an Argentine barracks on multiple charges of human rights violations while at the head of the country's military junta from 1976 to 1981.
The new charges against Videla come weeks after another former “Dirty War” ruler- Gen. Reynaldo Bignone- was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Image- BBC Mundo
Online Sources- BBC News, AP, Sydney Morning Herald, New York Times

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