Argentina jails doctor, midwife for military-era kidnaps

Argentina jails doctor, midwife for military-era kidnaps
Pregnant women were handcuffed and blindfolded.

BUENOS AIRES - A court in Argentina on Monday convicted and sentenced a doctor and midwife for their roles in abducting newborns from women during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

While the sentence was not as long as prosecutors sought, it still was a landmark ruling as the country struggles with its recent past.

The court sentenced retired military doctor Norberto Atilio Bianco, 69, to a 13-year term, and midwife Yolanda Arroche, 85, to a seven-year term. It acquitted a third accused, doctor Raul Eugenio Martin, 75.

They were tried for working at the secret birthing centre at the Campo de Mayo prison.

During the dictatorship, the military took women there who were abducted while pregnant, handcuffed and blindfolded and held until they gave birth.

Their children were then given to military staff or government sympathizers under false names.

The court also sentenced Santiago Omar Riveros, 91, and former dictator Reynaldo Bignone, 86, to terms of 30 and 16 years, respectively. They had been in charge of the military district at the time.

They separately face life in prison, however, for other crimes against humanity.

During the dictatorship successive military juntas waged a so-called "dirty war" against perceived leftist dissent.

An estimated 30,000 people were killed or abducted and presumed killed during the dictatorship.

Of some 500 babies stolen from their captive mothers, 115 have been found through genetic testing and the efforts of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a rights group founded by women fighting to locate their stolen grandchildren.

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