Argentina: Former Dictator Says Regime Did Not Steal Babies

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Top Story— Argentine former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla on Tuesday denied that his government had systematically kidnapped the babies of murdered political prisoners during his 1976-1981 rule. Human rights groups like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo estimate that some 500 babies were born in captivity to pregnant women kidnapped by Argentine security forces, and were given to new families after their mothers were murdered. Videla, who faces 50 years in prison for his alleged role in the state-sponsored baby thefts, said the pregnant prisoners “used their child embryos as human shields when they operated as fighters,” and denied that any “implicit order framed in a systematic plan” came from the upper ranks of his government. His administration is accused of stealing at least 34 infants from their mothers, who were held in torture centers. Videla is currently serving a life sentence for torture, murder, and kidnapping. As many as 30,000 people were killed during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, according to rights groups.

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