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The BBC's Claire Marshall
"General Videla was the first leader of the military junta that took control of Argentina in 1976"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Argentine military ruler charged
General Videla
General Videla is already under house arrest
By Latin America correspondent Clare Marshall

Argentina's former military leader, Jorge Videla, has been formally indicted over his alleged role in Plan Condor, an operation to hunt down and execute political opponents in the 1970s and 80s.

The case has been brought by several families who blamed General Videla for the death of their relatives in the covert operation.

Graves of
As many as 30,000 may have been killed during the military era
In a 500-page report, a federal judge formally charged General Videla with being part of an illegal organisation to crush political rivals.

Plan Condor was a regional strategy, devised in the 1970s by six Latin American countries, aimed at quashing opposition to military governments.

The implementation of the plan is thought to have resulted in a number of high profile murders of dissidents.

Amnesty loophole

The judge ordered General Videla to be put under preventative detention, but he is already under house arrest in connection with a separate probe into the theft of babies from political prisoners, who were then given for adoption to childless couples in the military.

An amnesty law, passed in 1985, had until recently protected the leaders of the military junta from prosecution.

However, it seems that enterprising lawyers are finding ways to get around it.

It is thought that General Videla's legal team will appeal against the indictment, but this order means that for the foreseeable future the former leader will remain under arrest.

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See also:

03 Jul 01 | Americas
Argentina refuses Astiz extradition
06 Mar 01 | Americas
Amnesty case gives new hope
07 Mar 01 | Media reports
Judge's ruling sparks fierce debate
19 Aug 98 | Crossing Continents
The Living Disappeared
12 Feb 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Argentina's missing babies
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