Former Dictator Jorge Rafael Videla Dead

May 17, 2013 by  

Former Dictator Jorge Rafael Videla Dead, Former Argentine military leader Jorge Rafael Videla has died aged 87 while serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.

He is reported to have died from natural causes in prison.

The general was jailed in 2010 for the deaths of 31 dissidents during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, of which he was overall leader until 1981.

Up to 30,000 people were tortured and killed during this period, in a campaign known as the “Dirty War”.

Gen Videla had been sentenced to life in prison for torture, murder and other crimes in 1985, but was pardoned in 1990 under an amnesty given by the president at the time, Carlos Menem.

“The dictator is dead” is the most repeated headline on Argentine TV and radio news. Jorge Videla was no regular ruler. He was the most prominent figure of the years of the junta, one of the darkest episodes of Argentine history.

He is considered the ideologist of the Dirty War, a cruel civic-military state plan to silence left-wing opposition in the country during the 1970s and 80s. Up to 30,000 activists were tortured and murdered under military rule.

Some of the practices against the opponents of the junta included the kidnapping of the children of activists and throwing tortured militants from helicopters into the River Plate so their bodies would never be found.

Many Argentines on social networks point out that, unlike some other military rulers of the region, Videla died in prison, serving a life sentence for his crimes.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a 2007 federal court move to overturn his pardon.

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