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A court in Argentina has sentenced a former police officer who worked in one of the most notorious torture centers during the country's military rule to 15 years in prison.
Mario Sandoval was an officer police during the “Dirty War” in Argentina. The 69-year-old executioner was found guilty of kidnapping and torturing student Hernan Abriata, who disappeared in 1976 and is presumed dead.
Sandoval fled Argentina after the end of military rule and settled in France, where he began teaching at the university. He was extradited in 2019.
Sandoval is accused of participating in the disappearance and torture of hundreds of left-wing activists during Argentina's military rule between 1976 and 1983.
only one case: the kidnapping of 24-year-old architecture student Hernan Abriat, who was captured by police from his home in 1976 and taken to an underground detention center.
The left-wing activist was taken to the Higher School of Mechanics of the Navy, known as “Esma” (abbreviation in Spanish), which was the largest underground detention center in Argentina.
It is estimated that more than 5,000 men and women opposed to the military junta were taken there. Fewer than 100 people escaped Esme's dungeons alive.
The detainees were interrogated and tortured, many were then drugged and thrown into the sea from airplanes.
Survivors say that Mario Sandoval was one of the most notorious torturers who worked in Esme. They accuse him of tying prisoners to metal bed frames and torturing them with a stun gun.
Sandoval moved to France two years after the fall of the Argentine military junta. There he became a defense and security consultant, received French citizenship and taught for six years as a visiting lecturer at the Institute for Latin American Studies of the Sorbonne, one of the best universities in France.
It wasn't until 2008 that lecturer Sandoval was identified as a former police officer suspected of kidnapping and torturing activists.
his accusation was committed in Argentina, when he did not yet have French citizenship.
His trial in Buenos Aires began in September. Sandoval maintained to the end that he was not the man who captured Hernan Abriata in 1976 and did not show much emotion when he was convicted.
It is still not known exactly what happened to Abriata after that how he ended up in captivity. He is one of about 30,000 people who disappeared during the military junta.
Six years ago, his initials and a message from him to his wife Monika Dittmar were found scrawled on the wall of a cell in Esme , which is now a museum and memorial.
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