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Argentina ‘Dirty War’ dictator V idela dies + Argentina ex-dict ator takes secrets to the grave

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    http://www.theborneopost.com/2013/05/19/argentina-dirty-war-dictator-videla-dies/ Argentina ‘Dirty War’ dictator Videla dies Posted on May 19, 2013, Sunday
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      Argentina ‘Dirty War’ dictator Videla dies

      Posted on May 19, 2013, Sunday

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      BUENOS AIRES: General Jorge Videla, Argentina’s dictator at the height of its ‘Dirty War’ against leftist activists, died Friday in prison while serving time for crimes against humanity. He was 87.

      Videla launched a ferocious crackdown on leftists and suspected supporters when he took power in 1976. As many as 30,000 people were kidnapped and ‘disappeared’ by the military, and suspected regime opponents were swept into secret prisons, tortured and murdered.

      In his last public appearance Tuesday, an unrepentant Videla, who left office in 1981, told a court that his subordinates acted under his orders and assumed “full military responsibility for the actions of the army in the war against terrorism.”

      The prison doctor on duty found Videla in the morning “sitting on the toilet in his cell,” according to the official prison report. He had no vital signs.

      “It is important that he died of natural causes in a regular prison,” said Human Rights Secretary Martin Fresneda.

      “There was justice, not revenge, and he leaves as the person that was responsible for the main horrors that the Argentine people endured.”

      The federal judge with jurisdiction over the prison ordered an autopsy to dispel any doubts that Videla might note have died of a natural cause.

      In 2010, Videla was sentenced to life behind bars for the disappearance of 31 prisoners, and to another 50 years’ jail in 2012 for the theft of children born to female prisoners.

      Earlier, in 1985, he was convicted of abuses committed under his regime, but pardoned five years later by then president Carlos Menem. That pardon was declared unconstitutional in 2006 as Argentina reopened one of the darkest chapters in its history with trials of former military officials.

      A wiry officer with a brush mustache, an intense gaze and a passionate hatred of communism, Videla showed little remorse for the systematic abuses.

      “Let’s say there were seven thousand or eight thousand people who had to die to win the war against subversion,” Videla said recently in a prison interview, according to journalist Ceferino Reato.

      “We couldn’t execute them by firing squad. Neither could we take them to court,” he was quoted as saying.

      Military leaders agreed that secretly disposing of their prisoners “was a price to pay to win the war,” Videla said, according to Reato in his book “Final Disposition.”

      “For that reason, so as not to provoke protests inside and outside the country, the decision was reached that these people should be disappeared.”

      Videla later said he had been misquoted, but the journalist insists the general reviewed his handwritten notes and approved them before publication.

      The former dictator died at 0825 (1125 GMT) in the Marcos Paz prison southwest of Buenos Aires, where he spent his final days in a spartan cell with a wooden cross on the wall.

      Videla “dies condemned by justice and repudiated by society,” said Nora Cortinas, of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo rights group.

      Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner who drew international attention to the junta’s abuses, said Videla “never repented of the crimes and he is taking a lot of information with him.” — AFP

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      Argentina ex-dictator takes secrets to the grave

      Saturday May 18, 2013  |  Agence France Presse

      The front pages of major newspapers in Argentina reflect the news of the death of Jorge Rafael Videla, May 18, 2013

      Credit: Agence France Presse

      Late Argentine dictator General Jorge Videla will be buried without revealing what happened to the tens of thousands who "disappeared" during his rule, rights groups said Saturday.

      Videla, 87, died Friday of natural causes in Marcos Paz prison, where he was serving two consecutive life sentences plus 50 years for massive rights abuses, including stealing the babies of female prisoners.

      His body is currently in the judicial morgue in Buenos Aires, awaiting autopsy. It is not clear when or where he will be buried.

      The ex-dictator, who ruled at the height of the Latin American country's "Dirty War" against leftist activists, launched a ferocious crackdown when he took power in 1976. He left office in 1981.

      As many as 30,000 people were kidnapped and "disappeared" by the military, and suspected regime opponents were swept into secret prisons, tortured and murdered.

      In his last public appearance, just days before his death, the unrepentant Videla told a court that his subordinates acted under his orders and assumed "full military responsibility for the actions of the army in the war against terrorism."

      Rights groups across Argentina's political spectrum have condemned the former dictator, lamenting that he died without revealing what he knew about the missing people and stolen children.

      "Mothers have a right to recover the bodies of their children," said activist Paula Maroni, of the group CHILDREN of the Missing.

      She said Videla's death should serve as a "call to break the pact of secrecy" and "tell the truth."

      Nora Cortinas of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo said dictators like Videla "die and take with them the most important secrets in history."

      But former judge Leon Arslanian, who was involved in Videla's prosecution in 1985, said the information could still be out there.

      "The armed forces, when they organized this, they did it in a very planned way," Arslanian told Radio Mitre.

      "Every military action that was carried out... of course there were records."

      However, none of the prosecuted ex-soldiers have yet revealed information about what happened to the missing -- including Videla, who showed little remorse for the systematic abuses.

      The wiry officer with a brush mustache, an intense gaze and a passionate hatred of communism recently admitted in a prison interview with journalist Ceferino Reato that his regime had wiped out "7,000 or 8,000 people who had to die to win the war against subversion."

      "So as not to provoke protests inside and outside the country, the decision was reached that these people should be disappeared," Videla said, according to Reato in his book "Final Disposition."

      Videla later said he had been misquoted, but the journalist insists the general reviewed his handwritten notes and approved them before publication.


       
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