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Court hears of Argentina's stolen children


Court hears of Argentina's stolen children

Last Updated: Friday, November 10, 2000 | 11:52 PM ET

In Argentina, eight former presidents and high-ranking military officers are charged with stealing babies born to political prisoners in the 1970s.

A high court is poised to rule on a case that could send the ex-dictators to jail for life.

It was a time when tens of thousands of political prisoners were arrested in Argentina. As many as 30,000 were never seen again.

Among those held by the military junta were pregnant women. And it is their story that is surfacing in a Buenos Aires courtroom.

Testimony has revealed that the women were allowed to give birth to their children while under arrest. The military set up special birthing centres, staffed with medical personnel. But that was the last time the mothers ever saw their children.

Lists were kept of infertile military families and friends of the government, to whom these stolen babies would be given.

It has even been reported that some of the would-be parents were allowed to sneak a peak at the pregnant mothers to make sure the physical similarities suited them.

As many as 500 stolen children may be walking the streets of Argentina and other countries, unaware of their family history, or what happened to their parents.

But some have been found. An organization of grandmothers has doggedly been tracking down the stolen children. So far they have found 62.

As for the defendants, they have said very little in court. They argue that they were pardoned for their human rights crimes in 1990, and stealing the newborns should be included in the pardon.

2000 Nov 10