BUENOS AIRES – An Argentine federal court has sentenced former dictator Reynaldo Bignone to 25 years in prison for stealing the children of political prisoners during the country’s last military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.
In the same trial on Monday, the court handed down a life sentence to former general Santiago Omar Riveros, the main defendant in the trial, which is the second for the theft of babies from the Campo de Mayo garrison on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
The court also sentenced military doctor Norberto Atilio Bianco and midwife Luisa Yolanda Arroche to 13 and 17 years, respectively, for attending to the births and forging death certificates.
In the trial, which lasted three months, the court absolved the chief of the hospital staff, Dr. Raul Eudenio Martin.
The judges found guilty four of the five accused of appropriating the babies of illegal detainees and giving them to relatives and friends of military personnel.
In his last testimony before the verdict was pronounced, Bignone claimed that during his military career he never ordered or authorized the appropriation of minors or the falsification of pertinent documents.
It was the fifth sentence for Bignone, 86, who was the de facto president of Argentina from 1982 to 1983.
During the dictatorship, there were four detention centers in Campo de Mayo where about 5,000 people were detained, of whom only about 50 survived.
During the first trial concerning the appropriation of minors, late dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was sentenced to 50 years after being identified as the chief culprit.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo association, the plaintiff in the case, has already restored the identity of 116 grandchildren, and are still searching for about 400 children of the victims of the last Argentine dictatorship.