A court in Italy has sentenced 24 South American ex-officials to life in prison for illegally detaining, torturing and killing hundreds of opposition activists in the 1970s and 1980s.
Among the victims – who were killed as part of Operation Condor, a pact between South American military rulers – more than 20 were Italians.
Twenty-three of the 24 defendants were sentenced in absentia.
It is doubtful whether their countries of origin will extradite them.
Nevertheless, relatives of the victims welcomed the sentences handed out by the Court of Appeal in Rome as an acknowledgment of the crimes committed under military rule in Latin America.
The relatives had campaigned two decades ago to first bring a case for the 23 victims of Operation Condor who were Italian nationals, taking advantage of a law which allows the murders of Italians abroad to be investigated and tried in Italy.
Who was sentenced?
The two dozen men on trial were senior officials from Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay and included former military rulers. Among them were:
What was Operation Condor?
Operation Condor was a campaign of state-sponsored terror organised by South American military rulers in the 1970s and 1980s. The US-backed regimes conspired to hunt down, kidnap and kill political opponents across South America and beyond.
It was first devised in 1975 at a meeting of intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Operation Condor later came…