Argentina: Ex-dictator Jorge Rafael Videla denies stealing babies from prisoners


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The Independent US

The former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla has denied in court that his government stole babies from women who were detained and executed during the years of military rule from 1976-83.

General Videla, 86, was defiant as he testified during a trial on charges that his administration stole 34 babies from their mothers as they were held in torture centres.

"All the pregnant ones referred to were active militants of a mechanism of terror and many used their child embryos as human shields when they operated as fighters," he said. "If the removal of an underage minor took place, it was not because of an implicit order, framed in a systematic plan and coming from the upper ranks of the armed forces during the years of the war against terrorism."

The activist group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo says some 500 children were born while their mothers were in captivity. The group has helped 106 of them to be reunited with their biological families.

With his thick glasses, white hair and moustache, General Videla looked more like a grandfather than the former strongman jailed for life in 2010 for kidnapping, torture and murder.