BUENOA AIRES, Argentina — Argentine former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, who led the country’s military junta from 1976 to 1981, died in a Buenos Aires jail today from natural causes. He was 87.
Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for human rights violations. His death was reported by local television channel C5N.
As an army general, Videla led a March 1976 coup that toppled the government of Maria Estela Martinez de Peron. Under the dictatorship, an estimated 30,000 people disappeared, presumed dead, and thousands of others tortured, according to human rights groups.
“Unfortunately he died without confessing,” Estela Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, told CN23 television channel today. “He never allowed us to recover the corpses of our sons that they killed, nor our grandsons that are alive.”
Argentina returned to democracy in 1983 with the government of Raul Alfonsin.
During his trial, Videla said he was unrepentant for his actions.
“I haven’t come to defend myself or argue in my defense,” Videla told the court. “I’ll accept under protest the unfair sentence that I may be given.”
In 1985, Videla and fellow junta members Emilio Massera and Orlando Agosti, were sentenced to life in prison. They were later pardoned by former President Carlos Menem in 1989.
In 2007, under the government of then President Nestor Kirchner, an Argentine federal court annulled the pardons.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.