BUENOS AIRES – Argentine former army Gen. Luciano Benjamin Menendez was sentenced Thursday to an additional life term in a mega-trial of 43 defendants accused of crimes against humanity during and prior to the start of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
The court in the central province of Cordoba found Menendez guilty of assassinations, torture and other rights violations at the clandestine prisons “La Perla” and “La Ribera,” which held leftist subversives and political enemies of the regime.
The 89-year-old Menendez was convicted of, among other crimes, the disappearance of 282 people, including a minor; 53 homicides; 260 kidnappings; and 657 cases of torture.
Menendez has now received 14 prison terms and 12 life sentences, more than any other Dirty War-era repressor.
The court also sentenced former army Capt. Hector Pedro Vergez and ex-army Maj. Ernesto Barreiro to life in prison, ruling that they also were responsible for the crimes perpetrated at those detention facilities.
Two lead complainants in the mega-trial were the human rights organizations Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Oblivion and Silence and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
That latter group said on Twitter that the sentencing of 28 defendants to life in prison and nine others to prison terms ranging from two to 14 years reflects the state terrorism that was carried out at the regime’s secret detention centers.
Six other defendants were acquitted in the mega-trial, which began on Dec. 4, 2012, and encompassed a score of investigations into alleged crimes committed between 1975 and 1978.
The defendants were accused of responsibility for rights abuses affecting 716 victims, more than 300 of whom were “disappeared.”
The number of defendants totaled 57 at the start of the mega-trial, but several died of natural causes and one, Maj. Aldo Carlos Checchi, committed suicide two days before it got under way.