In Argentina a historic trial convicted 15 former military officials for crimes committed during ‘Operation Condor’ in the 1970s.
The sentence proves how military dictatorships from six different countries worked together to persecute political opponents. CCTV America’s Joel Richards reports from Buenos Aries.
15 convicted in 'Operation Condor' trial in ArgentinaIn Argentina a historic trial convicted 15 former military officials for crimes committed during ‘Operation Condor' in the 1970s. The sentence proves how military dictatorships from six different countries worked together to persecute political opponents. CCTV America's Joel Richards reports from Buenos Aries.
Sara Mendez and Elber Rama have waited for this day for 40 years. They were illegally detained in Argentina in 1976 and then flown to Uruguay where they remained jailed illegally. For the sentence in this historic trial for Operation Condor, they returned to Argentina.
“I’m accompanied by my son today. He was kidnapped with me when he was just 20 days old, he was illegally adopted, and I was only reunited with him 26 years later. That he is here with me today for this is not a question of happiness, but it is pleasing,” Mendez said.
Sara Mendez was 32 when she was detained. Elber Rama, just 22.
“There are people who say we need to forget everything that happened, but for us it is part of our lives, fighting for justice, travelling to give testimony and give evidence so that there is justice,” Rama said.
Both Sara Mendez and Elber Rama were detained in an old garage known as Automotores Orletti. The bullet holes from a shootout from when it was a clandestine detention center are still on view today. The military rounded up leftist opponents, many from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. They were detained and tortured here.
The trial for Operation Condor lasted over three years and is viewed as a landmark case for international human rights. The investigation looked into how six South American countries collaborated to commit crimes across national borders.
On Friday, 15 former officers from Argentina and Uruguay, including the former junta leader Reynaldo Bignone, were convicted of crimes under the guise of Operation Condor. This sentence could open up further investigations across the region.
The total number of victims of Operation Condor is over one thousand. In this trial, the cases of 105 were heard. The sentences handed out prove there was a criminal conspiracy between military dictatorships and after four decades, serves justice for the victims from across South America.
It was a secret terror campaign that began in South America in the 1970’s and led to torture and a long killing spree. Called Operation Condor, or Plan Condor