Page last updated at 04:52 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 05:52 UK

'Dirty war' general found guilty

Argentine former general Santiago Omar Riveros (l) - 2001 file photo
Riveros headed one of Argentina's largest detention centres

A former general who headed a notorious detention centre during Argentina's military rule has been sentenced to life in prison for human rights abuses.

Santiago Omar Riveros, 86, commanded the Campo de Mayo military barracks on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

He was found guilty of involvement in the 1976 murder of 15-year-old communist youth member, Floreal Avellaneda, who was tortured to death.

Some 30,000 people disappeared or died in Argentina's 1976-1983 "Dirty War".

Riveros's former intelligence chief, Fernando Verplaetsen, was also jailed for 25 years in connection with the boy's killing.

And four other officers were given jail terms of between eight and 18 years.

Torture tactics

Floreal Avellaneda and his mother were abducted in 1976 by a military squad and tortured to find out the whereabouts of the boy's father, a Communist Party union leader of the same name.

The mother, Iris Pereyra, described their ordeal to the court: "They applied an electric current to my armpits, breasts, mouth, genitals and did exactly the same to my son."

Mrs Pereyra was released after three years. But her son's body washed up on the Uruguayan coast, bound hand and foot, and showing signs of beating, the prosecutors said.

Riveros was first convicted in 1985, and pardoned in 1989 by then-President Carlos Menem. In 2007, Argentina's Supreme Court revoked the pardon, clearing the way for his re-trial.

He is accused of more than 40 crimes against humanity involving victims of the era's so called "disappeared".

An estimated 5,000 prisoners were held at the Campo de Mayo barracks, one of the largest extermination centres in operation during the dictatorship of a military junta headed by General Leopoldo Galtieri, according to human rights groups.

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