Three leaders from Argentina’s former military junta have been jailed for a total of 95 years for their involvement in the stealing of babies from political prisoners.
86-year-old Jorge Rafael Videla received a 50 year sentence for ordering the kidnapping of 35 children during the country’s brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.
There were cheers inside and outside the court in Buenos Aires as Videla’s sentence and those for two other leaders Reynaldo Bignone and Jorge Acosta were read out.
Acosta, an ex-navy officer, was jailed for 30 years and Bignone, who later went on to be president, was sentenced to 15 years.
They are already serving life sentences for human rights convictions.
Hundreds of relatives, victims and political activists watched outside the courthouse on a large screen. Many waved placards saying “give our babies back”.
“This is justice. It came,” said Estela de Carlotto from Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group that was set up to help find the children stolen from prisoners. The task was left to grandmothers as many of their childrens’ mothers died in prison.
“Let’s remember we started this in 1996. At that time we didn’t know if we were going to get to this moment or not. We couldn’t have foreseen this. I think it’s very healing for society,” she added.
The group have so far identified 102 illegally adopted children but think there could be hundreds more who have yet to discover their true identities.