Argentina former leader Jorge Videla jailed for life

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Jorge Videla in the courtroom
Image caption,
The judges ruled that Videla would serve his life sentence in a civilian prison

Former Argentine military ruler Jorge Videla has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.

A court in the central Argentine city of Cordoba found Gen Videla, 85, guilty of murdering dissidents during the country's period of military rule between 1976 and 1983.

The general has been accused of being the main architect of what became known as Argentina's "Dirty War".

Up to 30,000 people were tortured and murdered under military rule.

'Criminally responsible'

The judges ruled that Gen Videla would have to serve his life sentence in a civilian prison.

He was already serving a life sentence for abuses committed during military rule, but had enjoyed special privileges after he was first sentenced in 1985.

The judges said Gen Videla was "criminally responsible" for the torture and deaths of 31 prisoners in Cordoba.

Most of the left-wing activists were taken from their cells in the central city of Cordoba and shot dead shortly after the military took power.

The army said at the time that they were killed while trying to escape.

Gen Videla was one of 30 members of the security forces charged with the murders.

Gen Luciano Benjamin Menendez, who the judges said played a crucial part in the "Dirty War" against leftist activists, was also sentenced to life in prison.

The court said Gen Videla would be transferred to a civilian prison "immediately", while Gen Menendez would undergo medical tests to determine if he was fit to be transferred to a local prison.

Pardon revoked

During the trial, Gen Videla took responsibility for the army's actions during his rule.

He said that the country's troops were following his orders during what he described as an "internal 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.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a 2007 federal court move to overturn his pardon, clearing the way for the court case which ended with his life sentence on Wednesday.

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