Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years Thursday for executing a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissenters three decades ago.
Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and received a 15-year sentence.
The baby thefts set Argentina's 1976-1983 regime apart from all the other juntas that ruled in Latin America at the time. Videla and the rest of the junta were determined to remove any trace of the armed leftist guerrilla movement that they said threatened the country's future.
The "dirty war" eventually claimed 13,000 victims according to official records. Many of them were pregnant women who gave birth in clandestine maternity wards.
Videla testified that there was no systematic plan to remove babies, and accused jailed women of using their unborn children as "human shields" in their fight against the state.
Nine others, mostly former military and police officials, also were accused in the trial, which focused on 34 baby thefts. Seven were convicted and two were found not guilty.