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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 14:12 GMT
Italy convicts 'Dirty War' five
Argentine Captain Alfredo Astiz
Astiz and other officers ran death squads in Argentina
An Italian court has sentenced five former Argentine military officers in absentia to life imprisonment for human rights abuses in the 1970s.

Alfredo Astiz, nicknamed "the Blond Angel of Death", was found guilty with the others over the "Dirty War" deaths of three Italian-Argentines.

Astiz is under arrest in Argentina. He is being investigated there for his role in disappearances of dissidents.

He has also been convicted in absentia in France for the murder of two nuns.

Following Thursday's ruling, Italy's Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said he would request the officers' extradition from Argentina.

The other four were named as Jorge Eduardo Acosta, Raul Vildoza, Antonio Vanek and Hector Antonio Febres.

The former Argentine military regime conducted a "Dirty War" from 1976 to 1983 aimed against left-wing opponents.

Official figures say 9,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed, but other estimates put the real number closer to 30,000.

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