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Thursday, October 27, 2011

"The blond angel of death", Alfredo Astiz, sentenced to life imprisonment

alfredo astiz
Alfredo Astiz
REUTERS - Alfredo Astiz, known as the "Blond Angel of Death", and 11 others were sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment in Argentina at the end of a trial-river on the crimes of the dictatorship in the 1970s. Alfredo Astiz and other members of death squads were tried for crimes committed at the Graduate School of Mechanical Argentine Navy (ESMA), where some 5,000 dissidents were imprisoned and tortured under the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Few prisoners were released alive. After this trial of 22 months, during which 79 survivors testified, 12 defendants have been jailed for life while four others were sentenced to terms ranging from 18 to 25 years in prison.

Among those sentenced to life imprisonment figure including Jorge Acosta, nicknamed "the Tiger", who said during the trial that "violations of human rights are inevitable in war." Despite the cold night, hundreds of people gathered outside the court in Buenos Aires, himself crowded to hear the trial. Some brandished portraits of the victims. The crowd applauded the verdict of each statement. "We can finally live in peace, knowing that justice has been done," said a woman at an Argentine television network. The insults have rockets against Alfredo Astiz when his sentence was announced. Once all the judgments, the crowd began to dance, some crying, some kissing.

Former naval officer Alfredo Astiz had boasted of his crimes in an interview in 1998 in a magazine. He was then presented as "the best trained man in Argentina to kill journalists and politicians". "I regret nothing", he had also said.

Infiltration During the dictatorship, he infiltrated the organizations defending human rights which the members were then removed. He was sentenced in absentia in France for the kidnapping of two French nuns imprisoned in the ESMA, the most famous of the secret prisons of the military dictatorship. It is estimated that only 200 people survived the prisons located in this military school. Most of the 5,000 other prisoners were drugged, put in planes and dumped at sea.

While the prisoners were held for hours, some for years, under the eaves of the residence the officers of the ESMA, the latter continued to live a normal life in the lower floors.

Organizations defending human rights to 30,000 deaths estimate the number of victims of six years of dictatorship in Argentina. After the fall of the military regime of former junta members were convicted before being granted amnesty. Alfredo Astiz himself has tried to resume a normal life. He has been photographed in nightclubs or its resorts. Become a symbol of the crimes of the dictatorship, however, he was assaulted several times in public.

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Argentina has returned to the amnesty laws at the request of then President Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernandez, whose widow has just been re-elected to head the country. Since then, the Argentine courts sentenced several former officers for violations of human rights. Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez met as students in the 1970s. Many of their friends were abducted and murdered at this time because of their political activities.

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