Jorge Rafael Videla, ex-de facto president of the last dictatorship, received an historic 50-year prison sentence for kidnapping and hiding babies during Argentina’s 1976 to 1983 dictatorship.
The tribunal passed the verdict as consequence to a “systematic and generalised practice of theft, retention and hiding of minors”.
Reynaldo Bignone, the de facto president from 1982 to 1983, received a 15 year sentence despite the prosecution’s request for a similar 50-year sentence.
Along with Videla and Bignone, there are 17 other cases that are pending or nearing a verdict. It also includes the Navy Mechanics School which was used as a torture centre for an estimated 13,000.
The verdicts are part of a mass trial of the last dictatorship’s officials and can be seen as a crowning moment of a 16-year process of testimonies and investigations into human rights violations. For the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (the Grandmothers), an organization that has actively pursued and demanded justice, the sentence is an emotional moment, too.
Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers, described how she has “mixed feelings” about the trial to Pagina 12. “Because on one hand I celebrate the 50 year sentence for Videla, the first of its kind, and there is an explicit and clear realization from the justice system that there was a systematic robbing of children and [he is] responsibly sentenced. On the other hand, they gave him a lighter sentence than we were hoping for, although the lawyers have their reasons, still we will see.”
Videla will be serving this sentence as an addition to his sentence for his dictatorship’s disappeared persons, for which he publicly admitted for in a recently published book.