Argentina’s last dictator among 15 jailed over kidnap and torture plot

Argentina’s last dictator and 14 other former military officials have been jailed for their parts in a plot to kidnap and disappear people across international borders. Former junta leader Reynaldo Bignone, who is now 88 and already in jail for abducting political prisoners’ babies, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in Operation Condor. Uruguayan army colonel Manuel Cordero Piacentini, who allegedly tortured political prisoners, was among the other 14 handed jail terms of up to 25 years. Applause rang out in the court room in Argentina as the sentences were announced - the first for those who plotted Operation Condor.

This ruling, about the coordination of military dictatorships in the Americas to commit atrocities, sets a powerful precedent to ensure that these grave human rights violations do not ever take place again in the region

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch

Operation Condor was coordinated by US-backed dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia to hunt down and kill exiled opponents in the 1970s and 1980s. The trial heard chilling testimony from those who were abducted and tortured by the plotters. Uruguayan Macarena Gelman, who was born in captivity after her father was tortured to death and her mother disappeared, was present in court on Friday and welcomed the verdict. “It’s a satisfactory sentence,” she said. “(Cordero) is the first Uruguayan to be convicted in my mother’s case. It makes me wonder, when will this happen in Uruguay?”

Operation Condor affected my life, my family. This trial is very meaningful because it’s the first time that a court is ruling against this sinister Condor plan

Chilean Laura Elgueta, whose brother Luis was forcibly disappeared