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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Galtieri placed under house arrest
General Leopoldo Galtieri as he was in 1982
Galtieri was protected by an amnesty for years
The former head of Argentina's military junta, General Leopoldo Galtieri, has been placed under house arrest after a night in a military cell.

The general, 75, was taken home from the barracks near Buenos Aires early on Friday after complaining of heart problems.

President Galtieri
Third of four leaders appointed by the junta
Came to power in November 1981
Launched the Falklands War eight months later
Resigned in disgrace three days after the Argentine surrender in June
Under Argentine law, anyone over the age of 70 can be held at home for health reasons.

The general was arrested on Thursday on kidnapping charges after a panel of judges ruled that an amnesty protecting military personnel from prosecution over "dirty war" crimes was unconstitutional.

He will now remain under house arrest for at least 48 hours, but will still face questioning, specifically over the 1980 kidnapping and murder of 20 left-wing rebels.

The BBC's Peter Greste reports that his move home indicates he may well spend the rest of his life in relative comfort.

That might appease those in the military who say the past should be buried, our correspondent says, but it will do nothing to satisfy human rights campaigners who have been demanding justice.

Other suspects

News of his arrest - ordered by Judge Claudio Bonadio - was welcomed by the US-based group Human Rights Watch, but it warned that other major "dirty war" suspects were still at large.

The arrest was a "significant victory for accountability", it said, boosting the power of the courts to nullify amnesties blocking prosecution for human rights crimes.

Graves in Buenos Aires
No-one really knows how many people the junta killed

Up to 30,000 opponents of the military junta were killed between 1976 and 1983 according to human rights groups.

General Galtieri was de facto president of the country during the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls Malvinas, and subsequent war with Britain.

He served three years in prison for military incompetence as a result of the disastrous war.

Twenty-nine other military officers and 11 police agents also face arrest after the reversal of the amnesty on Wednesday.

Former generals Carlos Suarez Mason and Cristino Nicolaides, along with former secret police chief Raimundo Ojeda, are among them.

Other leaders of the junta, including de facto presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, are already in custody in a separate investigation into thefts of babies born to detained political prisoners.

See also:

24 Mar 01 | Americas
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