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Argentina’s Videla gets life for crimes against humanity in 'Dirty War'

Former Argentine military ruler Jorge Videla has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, the BBC reports.

The general is accused of being the main architect of what became known as Argentina's ‘Dirty War’ – a period of state-sponsored terror friom 1976 to 1983 in which up to 30,000 people were killed or ‘disappeared’.

See a survivor’s account here.

An Argentine court, however, found Gen Videla, 85, guilty of a specific crime: the torture and murder of 31 prisoners in 1976.

During the Dirty War, Argentina’s dictatorship was then supported by the United States in the Cold-War era campaign against leftist insurgents and opponents.

However, last week the US extradited home a former Argentine police officer alleged to have taken part in torture and disappearances.

“[We] will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those who have come to our country in an effort to evade prosecution and punishment for the crimes they have committed against others," US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) head John Morton said.

More than 130 people have been convicted of crimes committed during the dictatorship, with dozens more currently on trial.

Videla remained unrepentant to the end, telling the court that Argentine society had demanded the crackdown to prevent a Marxist revolution and claiming that the country was now run by "terrorists".

Last month another Junta member, Emilio Massera, died of illness. He was also unrepentant to the end.