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Two Former Argentine Dictators Convicted in Baby Thefts

Posted: Jul 06, 2012

Two former Argentine dictators were convicted Thursday of "the systematic stealing of babies from political prisoners," reports the Associated Press. During Argentina's "Dirty Wars" (1976-1983), the country's military junta kidnapped, tortured and killed leftist dissenters, and gave their babies to families affiliated with the military. Former dictator Rafael Videla, 86, was sentenced to 50 years in prison; Reynaldo Bignone, 84, was sentenced to 15 years for the baby thefts. "The prison time is symbolic, though, because both men have been behind bars for years following multiple convictions and life sentences for other crimes against humanity," reports the Associated Press.

Argentine newspaper Página 12 reports that the news was met with applause by the thousands of people who had gathered to hear the sentence, broadcast on a large screen outside the courts. The gathering was organized by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization created to locate the children who were stolen during Argentina's Dirty Wars.

"This makes us better men and women, makes our country better. It makes us feel proud of a justice that listened to the victims, proud to face the international community and also those countries that have a justice that bends and doesn't want to condemn state terrorisim," said Human Rights Secretary Martín Fresneda, who was one of the grandchildren who was stolen as a baby.

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