Culprit behind Argentina’s Dirty War Captured in Bolivia

Español A former Argentinean military officer, accused of committing crimes against humanity during the South American nation’s military dictatorship, was captured and arrested in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on Friday. He will be extradited to face charges.

The officer, Jorge Horacio Páez Senestrari, worked under Jorge Rafael Videla in the northern province of San Juan, Argentina. Videla took control of the country in a military coup in 1976 and his regime remained in control until 1983. During this time, referred to as the Dirty War, an estimated 30,000 Argentineans suffered torture, were murdered, or disappeared.

The Bolivian interior minister who oversaw his capture and deportation proceedings this weekend, Jorge Pérez, said that Páez Senestrari was directly involved in Operation Condor. This state-led torture program sought to eliminate, by whatever means possible, all political opponents in Argentina and neighboring military-led countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

Páez Senestrari, now 68, has already been convicted of assault and aggravated homicide, but was released from an appeals court in 2011. After failing to show up to the following court date, Interpol released a red alert for his capture and declared him a fugitive. Now that he has been located, his trial is set to resume.

“Evo [Morales] orders the immediate deportation of former Argentinean oppressor Jorge Horacio Páez Senestrari.”

Páez Senestrari is one of several convicted ex-officers from the Dirty War. Jorge Rafael Videla, the leader of the military regime from 1976-1981, died in prison last year while serving a life sentence.

On Friday, NPR also reported that the director of human rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo had located and reunited with her lost grandson from that era. This reunion, as well as the arrest of key military officers from the dictatorship, is part of various human rights campaigns to achieve justice for atrocities committed during the Dirty War.

Sources: BBC, NPR, Argentina Independent.

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