Former Argentine Junta Leader Jailed

Former Argentine Junta Leader JailedFormer Argentine Junta Leader Jailed

Former Argentine junta leader, Reynaldo Bignone, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes committed under Operation Condor—a conspiracy between South America’s dictators in the 1970s.

Bignone and 14 other military officers were found guilty by a court in Argentina after a three-year trial.

Many leftwing activists were kidnapped and killed in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia. Human rights activists have hailed the ruling, AFP reported.

Judges at the court in Buenos Aires announced the sentencing of Bignone, Argentina’s last dictator, on Friday.

Former Uruguayan Col. Manuel Cordero, the only non-Argentine defendant, was jailed for 25 years.

The judges are continuing to deliberate the sentencing of the rest of the former military officers.

Since the trial started in 2013, five defendants, including Jorge Rafael Videla, the head of Argentina’s junta during its first three years, have died.

“This ruling, about the coordination of military dictatorships in the Americas to commit atrocities, sets a powerful precedent to ensure that these grave human rights violations do not ever take place again in the region,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas’ director for Human Rights Watch, said.

Operation Condor—named after the largest vulture in South America—began in 1975 at a meeting of intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

It later came to include Brazil, and, in a more peripheral role, Ecuador and Peru.

The operation, which continued in the 1980s, brought together the military of neighboring nations that had previously been at war with each other in order to fight a new common enemy—the spread of Marxist ideology throughout the region.