Buenos Aires. Former dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison after his conviction in the Argentine military regime’s systematic theft of children from their families.
Videla, 86, who led the regime from the 1976 takeover until 1981, is already serving a life sentence for other crimes committed under the dictatorship, which remained in power until 1983.
Reynaldo Bignone, who headed the junta from 1982-83, was sentenced to 15 years in jail on the same charge. Three other former military officers were sentence to prison terms of up to 40 years.
The case was the first prosecution of the systematic abduction of infants and young children under the Argentine dictatorship.
Hundreds of young children are believed to have been illegally taken from their families during the dictatorship. Most of them were born in captivity, often in clandestine maternity wards in illegal detention centers.
Their mothers were in many cases believed to have been killed after giving birth, while the babies were handed to families that the military considered more suitable.
The so-called Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have managed to trace the identities of 105 children who were stolen from their families under the dictatorship, and they continue to look for another 400.
The Argentine military regime is believed to have taken the lives of around 30,000 people, according to human rights organizations, though remains of most of the victims have never been found.