In the San Martin districtTuesday, April 20, 2010
Bignone sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights violations
Former dictatorship President Reynaldo Bignone, accused of human rights violations in the Campo de Mayo military garrison, has been sentenced to 25 years in regular prison, a court in the San Martin district in north-western Greater Buenos Aires area reported.
Bignone, who is 81 years old and remained until now under house arrest, has been sentenced to 25 years in regular prison. Court announced he was found guilty of 11 illegal raids, 6 robberies, 15 illegal deprivation of liberty, 29 disappearances and 38 cases of torture.
He was scheduled to pronounce "his last words" earlier along with other several former military commanders standing trial, and the verdict was read at 4:30 pm.
The former garrison officials facing imprisonment, who worked in a clandestine detention centre are: Santiago Omar Riveros, also 25 years in prison; Fernando Exequiel Verplaetsen, 25 years in prison; Carlos Alberto Tepedino, sentenced to 20 years; Jorge Osvaldo García, 18 years; Eugenio Guañabens Perelló, 17 years; while former Bella Vista police commissioner Germán Montenegro has been acquitted.
Human Rights Secretary Eduardo Luis Duhalde said he was "satisfied" with the court's decision because "the sentences were correct" and the "judges were fair."
Meanwhile, the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, celebrated the sentence, "Justice came late, but it came. There are 114 condemned cases and it's an example because we are leading the way in this area."
Since last November, Bignone and all others standing trial have been accused of leading illegal raids and detentions, and torturing 56 victims.
Bignone took office as President of the dictatorship in 1982, but was the head of the Military School at Campo de Mayo during 1976. Campo de Mayo is considered the largest illegal detention centre during the last dictatorship, since four clandestine torture facilities and a maternity ward were active there.
The ex dictatorship president was in charge of the transition toward democracy after Leopoldo Galtieri's failure as the head of state during Malvinas war.
Bignone was in charge since July 2 1982 until December 1938 when Radical Party leader Raúl Alfonsín took office.