Argentine Dictators Convicted in Baby Thefts
Infants of leftist prisoners were taken after birth
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 5, 2012 5:55 PM CDT
Former dictators Jorge Rafael Videla, second from right, and Reynaldo Bignone, right, wait to listen the verdict in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   (Natacha Pisarenko)
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(Newser) – Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years today for executing a systemic plan to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured, and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissenters three decades ago. The baby thefts set Argentina's 1976-1983 military junta apart from all the others that ruled in Latin America at the time. Videla and the rest of the junta were determined to remove any trace of the armed leftist guerrilla movement that they felt threatened the country's future.

The "dirty war" eventually claimed 13,000 victims according to official records. Many of them were pregnant women who gave birth in clandestine maternity wards. Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and received a 15-year sentence. The group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo has used DNA evidence to help 106 people who were stolen from prisoners as babies recover their true identities. Many of them were raised by military officials or their allies.
 

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