Former Argentine officials convicted over baby theft cases
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Former Argentine officials convicted over baby theft cases

Alta Gracia : Argentina | Jul 07, 2012 at 7:06 AM PDT
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Argentine dictator Jorge Videla sentenced 50 years for stealing babies

Two former Argentine officials were convicted and imprisoned by the court on Thursday for executing a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners.

A historic decision was made in the Argentine courts on Thursday as two former officials were convicted and imprisoned over the case of stealing babies from prisoners. The two men from Argentina are Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone. Both of them were accused of executing a plan of stealing babies from prisoners, who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military unit's war on leftist dissenters nearly thirty years ago.

The dirty crimes took place during the period of military rule in Argentia from 1976 to 1983 . At that time, the two and other military officials used to do all they could to keep the civilian uprising in check and this also included stealing babies from prisoners. According to reports, the dictators of that time were hell bent on removing any threat to the military rule and this resulted in stealing the babies of the guerilla movement's prisoners.

The babies were stolen from mothers at clandestine maternity wards. These babies were then given to other military families to be raised and they were never told of their true origin. That was also the time when the war claimed almost 13,000 victims, according to the official records, and many of them were the mothers of these babies, as they were left to rot in the maternity wards after not being properly tended to, post-delivery.

On Thursday, Jorge Rafael Videla was given the sentence of around 50 years, whereas Reynaldo Bignone, the country's last military ruler, was given the sentence of 15 years for stealing babies. The Argentina baby-theft case garnered international media attention after an NGO brought the facts of this case to light. This NGO gathered most of the facts related to the Plaza De Mayo cases. The group is also responsible for identifying the true parents of the stolen babies by conducting DNA tests.

Videla and Bignone are already serving long sentences for other crimes against humanity and even though both are past 70 years of age. In Argentina, if a person crosses the age of 70, he or she is allowed to pass his or her prison sentence under house arrest, but this exception was not granted in their cases.

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Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla listens to the verdict during his trial in a courthouse in Buenos Aires
Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla listens to the verdict during his trial in a courthouse in Buenos Aires
Samantha86 is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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