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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
'Dirty war' officer found guilty
Adolfo Scilingo after his conviction for crimes against humanity
Adolfo Scilingo admitted - and later denied - the crimes
An Argentine ex-naval officer has been convicted in Spain of crimes against humanity and given 640 years in prison.

Adolfo Scilingo, 58, bowed his head in court after being found to have been on board planes from which 30 people were thrown to their deaths.

The offences were committed during Argentina's "dirty war" - the period of military rule between 1976 and 1983.

The trial in Spain was the first under new laws allowing local prosecution for crimes committed in another country.

Relatives of some of Argentina's "disappeared" hugged each other in the Madrid courtroom when they heard the verdict.

A man in the gallery shouted: "Murderer, rot in jail."

Testimony 'fabricated'

His lawyer said Scilingo was a scapegoat and that he would appeal.

Spanish law says the maximum anyone guilty of non-terrorist offences can spend in jail is 30 years, whatever the original sentence.

Scilingo volunteered to go to Spain in 1997 to testify about atrocities that took place under the right-wing regimes in Argentina and Chile.

Relatives of Argentina's "disappeared" celebrate the jailing of Adolfo Scilingo
Relatives say they hope more convictions will follow

He admitted being aboard two "death flights" - planes on which detainees were drugged, stripped naked and thrown to their deaths in the ocean below.

He also spoke of other abuses committed at the Buenos Aires Navy School of Mechanics, which was used as a torture centre at that time.

He was subsequently arrested and indicted by investigating Judge Baltasar Garzon.

Scilingo later retracted his confession, saying his testimony was fabricated in order to prompt an investigation into the atrocities committed under the regime.

Human rights groups say up to 30,000 political opponents were kidnapped, detained and later executed between 1976 and 1983.

A panel of three National Court judges panel found Scilingo guilty on Tuesday of crimes against humanity, jailing him for 21 years for each of the 30 killings.

He received a further five years each for torture and illegal detention.

Hear about the families' reactions to the sentence

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