Life in prison for rights violators in Argentina

Seven retired military officers were sentenced to life in prison for rights abuses committed during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship, officials said Saturday.

The seven were found guilty of kidnapping, torture and homicide in the case of 69 people who were held at navy bases in the city of Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

The case was brought by relatives of victims and rights groups including the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Sixteen people were originally indicted, but two died before the trial could end and a third was absolved for health reasons, the Center of Judicial Information, an office attached to Argentina's Supreme Court, said in a statement.

Retired army general Alfredo Arrillaga and six retired navy officers -- Juan Jose Lombardo, Raul Alberto Marino, Roberto Pertusio, Rafael Guinazu, Jose Lodigiani and Mario Forbice -- were all sentenced to life in prison..

Four other members of the navy were sentenced to 25, 14, 12 and three years respectively, while two top civilian police prefects were sentenced to 14 and 10 years respectively.

The sentence was handed down on Friday, the Judicial Information office said.

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 activists, students, leftist sympathizers and in some instance, their relatives and friends.

A blanket pardon for crimes committed during the dictatorship was overturned in 2003, paving the way for scores of lawsuits.

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