Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Four men jailed for junta torture

Former army general Eduardo Cabanillas in court before sentencing for torture in Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP)

A court has sentenced a former army general to life in prison and three ex-agents to 20 and 25 years for crimes against humanity in a notorious torture centre during Argentina's military dictatorship.

Eduardo Cabanillas was convicted of illegal imprisonment, torture and homicide involving 65 people held at Automotores Orletti, a car body shop that served as an operations centre for Operation Condor.

Condor was a co-ordinated effort by South America's dictatorships to eliminate dissidents who sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The crimes took place in 1976.

Prosecutors says about 300 people passed through Automotores Orletti, including Uruguayans, Chileans, Bolivians and Cubans, most of whom were killed or disappeared.

The court also sentenced former army intelligence agent Raul Guglielminetti to 20 years while former spies Honorio Martinez Ruiz and Eduardo Ruffo each received 25 years. A fifth suspect in the case, retired colonel Ruben Visuara, died in February.

"It is a glorious and historical day that we are living and that the 'mothers' didn't think we'd live to see. This is legal justice," said Tati Almeida of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine human rights group.

Survivors of the torture centre say bound, blindfolded prisoners were given electric shocks, hoisted up by pulleys and submerged head-first in water in what was known as "the submarine". Running car engines in the garage masked their screams.

Among the centre's victims was Marcelo Gelman, the son of Argentine poet Juan Gelman, whose body was found in a drum of cement in a river. His pregnant wife was also abducted and remains missing. She gave birth in captivity and the poet located his granddaughter Macarena in Uruguay in 2000.

The trial reflects Argentina's effort to resolve crimes of the 1976-1983 military junta. About 3,000 political dissidents disappeared during the dictatorship, according to official figures. Human rights groups put the figure at 30,000.

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