In a landmark ruling, Argentina’s Court of Tucuman sentenced 17 people with crimes against humanity — including issuing 6 life terms— for their role in ‘Operation Independence’ during the U.S.-backed Dirty War in Argentina in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The six given life sentences include Roberto "El Tuerto" Albornoz, Luis De Candido, Ricardo Oscar Sánchez, Miguel Moreno, Enrique del Pino and Jorge Omar Lazarte, all were top officials during the period.
The court charged the rest of the defendants with prison sentences ranging from 4 to 18 years, based on the crimes of torture, abduction, forced disappearances, and rape, in addition to issuing seven acquittals.
The 1975 operation was the first large-scale military operation of the Dirty War, launched to crush the People's Revolutionary Army, known by their Spanish acronym, ERP, and other left-wing forces in the country. Authorized by Italo Argentino Luder, who served as acting President when the incumbent Isabel Peron fell ill, it was continued under the military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla.
"The culimination of the #OperationIndependenceSentence: 6 perpetrators, 7 acquittals. The remainder of the sentences: 18, 16, 10 and 4 years."
The court’s ruling came after 16 months of debate and testimonies from nearly 409 witnesses, according to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group of Argentine women whose children disappeared during the Dirty War.
There were 20 defendants at the beginning of the trial, three had died during the hearings.
Absuelven al genocida OMAR EDGAR PARADA para quien se había pedido cadena perpetua @SentenciaOI pic.twitter.com/HODrPt33JD— Abuelas Plaza Mayo (@abuelasdifusion) September 15, 2017
Some of the demonstrators gathered outside the court.
Prior the ruling, hundreds of activists and the relatives of the victims gathered outside the court, demonstrating with personal items and photos of their family members who were kidnapped, tortured, killed or disappeared.