Jorge Videla, former dictator, faces new trial in Argentina
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The aging former military dictator of Argentina is facing criminal charges for the killings of 31 jailed dissidents during the country’s ‘Dirty War.’ The trial of Jorge Videla, now 84 and with prostate cancer, opened last week in a court in Cordoba.
The shooting deaths occurred in the central city shortly after the 1976 coup that brought the military junta to power in Argentina. The military said at the time that the jailed dissidents were trying to escape.
Videla is being tried alongside more than 20 other defendants, including former general Luciano Menendez, reports in Argentina said (link in Spanish). Videla also faces a trial set for September for charges that he stole 33 infants from political opponents.
The former dictator ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1981, when tens of thousands were killed or ‘disappeared.’ Videla had been sentenced to life in prison in 1985 after democracy was restored, but in 1990, he was pardoned and freed by President Carlos Menem. In 2007, the Supreme Court restored his convictions and his life sentence, sending Videla back to prison in 2008.
New charges against him would not add years to his sentence but are being sought in the name of the victims’ families. Miguel Ceballos, a son of one of those killed in Cordoba, is representing them.
In a statement at the trial’s opening (with video here), Videla, dressed in a suit and tie, assumed responsibility for the acts of which he is accused, but he said he should not face charges he has faced before. ‘I’d like to add, and reiterate, that I assume in total my military responsibilities in every act by the Argentine army during that internal war to which I’ve made reference.’
On Wednesday, Videla and Menendez were photographed sleeping in the Cordoba courtroom during arguments.
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City