Former dictator Jorge Videla, who ruled Argentina during its “Dirty War,” died in prison Friday while serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
Videla, who ruled at the head of a military junta between 1976 and 1981, died of natural causes, C5N television reported.
As many as 30,000 people were kidnapped and “disappeared” by the military during an all-out campaign against the left launched by Videla, in which suspected opponents were swept into secret prisons, tortured and murdered.
Videla, who came to power in a 1976 military coup, was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for the disappearance of 31 prisoners and to another 50 years in 2011 for the theft of children born to female prisoners.
Videla showed little remorse for a record of human rights abuses that made the Argentine junta symbol of repressive Latin American military dictatorships.
“As I have done before, I wish to say that this court lacks jurisdiction to judge me for cases involving the army in the anti-subversive struggle,” he said on Tuesday in testimony in another trial stemming from the period.
He died in the Marcos Paz prison southwest of Buenos Aires.
“Last night he didn't feel well. He didn't want to eat and this morning they found him dead in his cell,” Cecilia Pando, the head of the Association of Family and Friends of Political Prisoners, told reporters.
Former Argentina dictator Videla dies at 87