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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Press Association Images Pepa Pussek holds a picture of her son Juan Carlos, one of the victims of the dirty war, as Jorge Videla was sentenced last December

Former army officers sentenced to life for massacre in Argentina's Dirty War

Life behind bars for eight men who killed unarmed rebels. An estimated 30,000 people died in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 under a military dictatorship.

EIGHT FORMER ARMY officers have been sentenced to life imprisonment for participating in atrocities during the country’s Dirty War.

The eight were involved in a December 1976 massacre in the town of Margarita Belen in which 22 people were killed, reports the BBC. Those killed were members of the Montoneros rebel group, who had surrended to the army. The officers had claimed that they had been ambushed by the rebels, but the court in northern Argentina has found that this was not the case.

The trial of the army officers lasted almost a year. A ninth man, a former police officer, was found not guilty.

According to human rights groups around 30,000 people were killed during the Dirty War campaign, a period of military rule which lasted from 1976 to 1983. Last month the man who was appointed to lead the investigation into the disappearance of thousands of people during the dictatorship died. Ernesto Sabato was described as a “living legend” by the Buenes Aires Herald at the time of his death.

Sabato’s inquiry made it possible for many of the military leaders to be brought to trial, but as the BBC reports, some of these chiefs were given an amnesty. In 2005 this amnesty was declared unconstitutional, meaning that military officers were no longer exempt from charges arising from atrocities. Former dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December 2010.