Military torturers jailed for offences during dictatorship

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Date: Apr. 2, 2011
Publisher: Newsquest Media Group Ltd.
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 253 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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Byline: Argentina

A court has sentenced a former army general to life in prison and three former 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, 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 say 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 in prison 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," Tati Almeida of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group, said.

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

The trial reflects Argentina's effort to resolve crimes of the 1976-1983 military junta. Official figures say that around 3,000 political dissidents disappeared, but human rights groups put the figure at 30,000.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A253324644