Uruguay’s congress votes to revoke rights amnesty

Uruguay’s congress passed legislation revoking amnesty for military officials accused of committing human rights abuses during the country’s 1973 to 1985 dictatorship.

Lawmakers from the lower house voted Thursday by a margin of 50 to 40 to eliminate the amnesty. It follows a similar vote in the senate on Tuesday.

The new law was approved just days before the statute of limitations was set to expire, eliminating the possibility of new prosecutions.

The amnesty measure was passed in December 1986 to pardon human rights violations during the 12-year dictatorship. During that time, hundreds of suspected leftists were kidnapped, tortured and killed.

Uruguayans have voted to uphold the amnesty in two separate referendums held in 1989 and 2009.

Meanwhile, a court in neighboring Argentina has sentenced a former navy lieutenant known as the “Blond Angel of Death” for crimes committed during the country’s Dirty War.

Alfredo Astiz was sentenced to life in prison for his role in kidnappings, tortures and murders of political dissidents, among them two French nuns, a journalist and the founders of a human rights group.

Eleven other former police and military officers were also sentenced to life in prison. Four received sentences ranging between 18 and 25 years.

Argentina’s military dictatorship lasted from 1976 to 1983. Human rights groups say at least 30,000 political dissidents and leftist guerillas disappeared or were killed during the crackdown.

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