Argentine court sentences ex-dictator for Operation Condor

by DEBORA REY and LUIS ANDRES HENAO  |  published on May 28, 2016

Argentina’s last dictator and 14 other former military officials were sentenced Friday to prison for human rights crimes committed during the Operation Condor conspiracy to hunt down dissidents across South America and beyond.

Operation Condor was launched in the 1970s by six South American dictators who used their secret police networks in a coordinated effort to track down their opponents across borders and eliminate them. Some leftist dissidents had sought refuge in neighboring countries only to be detained as part of the state-sponsored terror campaign.

An Argentine court on Friday sentenced former junta leader Reynaldo Bignone, 88, to 20 years in prison for being part of an illicit association, kidnapping and abusing his powers in the forced disappearance of more than 100 people. The former general who ruled Argentina in 1982-1983 is already serving life sentences for multiple human rights violations during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

In the landmark trial, 14 other former military officials received prison sentences of eight to 25 years for criminal association, kidnapping and torture. They include Uruguayan army colonel, Manuel Cordero Piacentini, who allegedly tortured prisoners inside Automotores Orletti, the Buenos Aires repair shop where many captured leftists were interrogated under orders from their home countries. Two of the accused were absolved.

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