BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Four former federal judges in Argentina were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the country's last dictatorship in a ruling human rights groups are calling historic for punishing the regime's civilian accomplices.
The court in Mendoza province ruled that ex-judges Rolando Carrizo, Guillermo Petra Recabarren, Luis Miret and Otilio Romano participated in kidnappings, torture and murders. The men were tried for their failure to investigate petitions of habeas corpus filed by relatives of dissidents who disappeared during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
During the trial, which began in 2014, prosecutors asked to change the charges against the four from being accomplices to primary participants in the crimes, arguing their inaction on the petitions preceded the disappearance of more than 20 dissidents.
"HISTORIC: members of the judicial body of state terrorism sentenced to life," read a tweet from the group Sons And Daughters For Identity And Justice Against Forgetfulness And Silence.
Other human rights groups like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo also expressed their satisfaction with the sentence since they had long been demanding justice for the civilian accomplices of the military regime.
One of the judges, Romano, served on the Mendoza Federal Chamber until his dismissal in 2011. He fled to Chile but was extradited back to Argentina in 2013.
Official estimates say about 7,600 people were killed or disappeared during the dictatorship, but rights activists believe the number was actually as high as 30,000.