BUENOS AIRES – Gen. Jorge Videla, Argentina’s dictator at the height of its “Dirty War” against leftist activists, died Friday in prison while serving time for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
The prison doctor on duty found Videla in the morning “sitting on the toilet in his cell,” according to the official prison report. He had no vital signs.
Videla launched a ferocious crackdown on leftists and suspected supporters when he took power in 1976. As many as 30,000 people were kidnapped and “disappeared” by the military, and suspected regime opponents were swept into secret prisons, tortured and murdered.
In 2010, Videla was sentenced to life behind bars for the disappearance of 31 prisoners, and in 2012 to another 50 years in prison for the theft of children born to female prisoners.
In his last public appearance Tuesday, an unrepentant Videla, who left office in 1981, told a court that his subordinates acted under his orders and assumed “full military responsibility for the actions of the army in the war against terrorism.”