'An Italian court has sentenced 24 people to life in prison for their involvement in Operation Condor, in which the dictatorships of six South American countries conspired to kidnap and assassinate political opponents in each other’s territories.
The trial, the first of its kind in Europe, began in 2015 and focused on the responsibility of senior officials in the military dictatorships of Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina for the killing and disappearance of 43 people including 23 Italian citizens.
Those sentenced on Monday included Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who was president of Peru from 1975 to 1980, Juan Carlos Blanco, a former foreign minister in Uruguay, Pedro Espinoza Bravo, a former deputy intelligence chief in Chile, and Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli, a Uruguayan former naval intelligence officer.
Exactly how many people died as a result of the conspiracy is unknown, but prosecutors in South America and Italy provided evidence that at least 100 leftwing activists were killed in Argentina, including 45 Uruguayans, 22 Chileans, 15 Paraguayans and 13 Bolivians.
“Operation Condor spared no one,” said Francesca Lessa, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Latin American Centre. “Refugees and asylum seekers were especially targeted, while children – illegally detained with their parents – had their biological identity stolen and replaced by that of adoptive families.”
According to a database recording the crimes of the coordinated regional repression, at least 496 people of 11 nationalities were kidnapped under the auspices of Operation Condor.
Declassified documents suggest some victims were drugged, their stomachs were slit open and they were dropped from planes into the Atlantic Ocean. Other victims’ bodies were cemented into barrels and thrown into rivers.'
Read more: Italian court jails 24 over South American Operation Condor
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