Former officers convicted in ‘Dirty War’ trial

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BUENOS AIRES — Former Argentine navy captain Alfredo Astiz, known as the “Angel of Death,” received life in prison Wednesday for crimes committed at a notorious torture center during the country’s 1976-1983 military junta.

He, along with ex-navy officer Jorge Acosta, were two of 54 accused in the massive trial probing nearly 800 human rights abuses carried out at ESMA, a former Argentine naval school that was one of the regime’s most notorious torture centers.

Both men had already been sentenced to life imprisonment in prior trials.

In total, 29 people were handed life in prison, while another 19 got sentences ranging from eight to 25 years in prison. Six people were acquitted.

Some 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed in what became known as Argentina’s “Dirty War,” according to rights groups. Victims included Montonero guerrillas, labor union leaders, students, leftist sympathizers and in some instance, their relatives and friends.

The trial is part of an effort to probe torture and crimes against humanity committed at the ESMA Naval Mechanics School.

Only a fraction of the estimated 5,000 regime opponents survived being sent there.

This is the third trial for human rights violations committed at ESMA, and some 800 witnesses have given court testimony.

Since the process began in November 2012, 11 of the accused have died, and three were deemed too ill to face trial. — AFP