[JURIST] An Argentine court sentenced former general Luciano Benjamin Menendez [Project Disappeared profile] and four others to life in prison on Thursday for the 1977 kidnapping, torture, and killing of four political dissidents during the country's so-called "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Three others have been sentenced to extended jail terms since the case went to trial in May [JURIST report]. Menendez, who commanded the secret prison "La Perla" [HRT backgrounder] for the country's military dictatorship during the late 1970s, was originally taken into custody in 2005 when a judge ordered his arrest [JURIST report] in connection with a separate murder. Menendez, now 81, requested continued house arrest, but his request was denied. AP has more. The Buenos Aires Herald has local coverage.
It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" during the Argentine government's campaign against suspected dissidents during the country's "Dirty War." In 2005, Argentina's Supreme Court struck down amnesty laws [JURIST report] adopted in the 1980s to protect potential defendants, prompting the government to reopen hundreds of human rights cases. In March, Argentinean politician and former police chief Luis Abelardo Patti was also arrested for crimes allegedly committed during the period. In May, Juan Evaristo Puthod, a victim of the violent suppression, was kidnapped but later released [JURIST reports] before testifying in a third case.