Former Argentine dictator Videla jailed for life

UENOS AIRES,  (Reuters) – Former Argentine dictator  Jorge Rafael Videla, who defends the campaign of state violence  that killed thousands of people from 1976 to 1983, was jailed  for life yesterday for murder, torture and kidnapping.

Jorge Rafael Videla

Videla, 85, who has spent years in a military jail and  under house arrest, repeatedly justified the brutality of the  military junta in the so-called Dirty War crackdown on leftist  opponents during his trial.

“I don’t talk about a dirty war. I prefer to talk about a  fair war,” he was quoted as telling the court in the central  city of Cordoba, where he stood trial alongside 29 other  military figures.

Human rights activists in the courtroom applauded when his  sentence to a civilian prison was announced.

Rights groups say up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and  murdered during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, which began when  Videla and two other military leaders staged a coup on March  24, 1976.

Videla also criticized government efforts to bring military  leaders to trial for rights crimes before the sentence was read  out on Wednesday.

“Yesterday’s enemies achieved their aims and now they  govern the country and try to be seen as the champions of human  rights,” Videla was quoted as saying by daily La Nacion in a  veiled reference to President Cristina Fernandez’s center-left  administration.

During the 2003-2007 presidency of Fernandez’s late  husband, Nestor Kirchner, more Dirty War investigations were  opened.

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