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Argentina ex-president to face trial for alleged 'dirty war' rights abuses

[JURIST] Argentine federal Judge Alberto Suarez Araujo ruled Wednesday that former president Reynaldo Bignone [Wikipedia profile] will face criminal charges for his alleged role in disappearances and human rights abuses during Argentina's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. According Araujo's spokesperson, Bignone faces prosecution for the illegal arrest, torture and killing of dissidents at secret detention centers in Buenos Aires. Argentine authorities arrested [JURIST report] Bignone, 78, earlier this month pursuant to a statute that allows detention of suspects over the age of 70. Bignone denies any role in the disappearances or the alleged abuses. Araujo also ordered former army chief, Santiago Omar Riveros, to face prosecution.

Bignone was the last of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictators before democracy was re-established in 1983. Nearly 13,000 people are officially reported as missing during the military crackdown, although human rights groups say the toll is closer to 30,000 victims. In January, Argentine judges issued two separate warrants [JURIST report] for the arrest of former president Isabel Peron [BBC profile], currently living in exile in Spain, for her alleged role in dirty war disappearances before she left office in 1976. AP has more.

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