Latin America & Caribbean

Argentine Falklands War troops 'tortured by their own side'

Argentine soldiers (troops) walking on their way to occupy the captured Royal Marines base in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley Image copyright AFP
Image caption Argentine soldiers occupied the islands within a few days from the invasion, but the conflict would be over in 74 days

Argentine soldiers were subjected to abuse and torture by their own superiors during the 1982 Falklands War against Britain, files released by Argentina's armed forces reveal.

They are the first official documents from the conflict to be made public and contain testimonies from soldiers who say they were poorly equipped and cold.

They say they were severely beaten for leaving the trenches to look for food.

The conflict over the islands cost the lives of more than 900 soldiers.

For years, war veterans have complained about the terrible conditions during the conflict, including lack of proper boots and coats, says the BBC's Ignacio de los Reyes in Buenos Aires.

The previously secret files describe mock executions and soldiers being tied up inside empty graves.

A lieutenant describes how another officer tied his hands and legs to this back and left him face down on the wet sand of a cold Falklands beach for eight hours.

A sergeant says he had to be operated on after being kicked in the testicles.

"These documents lift the veil on facts that were hidden for so many years by the armed forces," said Ernesto Alonso, from a veterans group in La Plata.

'Exercise of colonialism'

The Falklands War began in April 1982, when Argentine troops invaded the British overseas territory which Argentina calls the Malvinas.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ordered in April the release of all secret files from the armed forces during the conflict

A British task force was sent to the area and regained control of the islands in June. Three Falklands civilians and 255 British servicemen died during the conflict.

The number of Argentine dead is estimated at about 650.

Argentine defeat precipitated the end of the country's brutal military government, which was already facing serious economic problems and lack of popular support.

Despite widespread criticism in Argentina of the 1982 invasion, most Argentines continue to claim the islands as theirs.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has previously described British presence as "a blatant exercise of 19th-Century colonialism".

The British government says it will defend the self-determination of the islanders.

An overwhelming majority of Falkland residents voted in March 2013 to remain a British territory. About 2,900 people live on the islands.

Image caption The Falkland Islands and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are British Overseas Territories

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