Twenty-one officials from military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s should be tried for charges ranging from kidnapping to murder, an Italian judge in Rome ruled on Monday.
The officials have been the subject of an ongoing investigation of the murder of 23 Italians during Operation Condor, and the trial is scheduled to start on February 12, 2015.
The murdered Italians were among the “disappeared” of tens of thousands of people who were killed during the dirty war against opponents to the brutal juntas in the region.
The Italian state has been investigating over 140 people for the past decade, with Argentina having 59 people under investigation. But for bureaucratic reasons, and the death of many, only 21 will face trial.
The officials face life imprisonment and include ex Bolivian president Luis García Meza Tejada (1980-81), Uruguayan ex president Juan María Bordaberry Arocena (1972-1976) and the ex Peruvian president Francisco Morales Bermudez (1975-1980).
The list included the deceased Chile's former leader Augusto Pinochet and Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla.
During the 1970s, military regimes in Latin America rounded up thousands of people who were suspected of having affiliations with radical leftist movements and put them into concentration camps and secret detention centers. Many were "disappeared"--they were tortured, interrogated, executed and secretly buried, with estimates of over 60,000 people being murdered by the state.
Nearly all of those involved have escaped prosecution in their home countries and have benefited from impunity.