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Monday 28 July  
Juan Maria Bordaberry
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Motevideo, Uruguay
Motevideo, Uruguay

Uruguay ex-dictator Bordaberry gets 30 years jail

Published on : 11 February 2010 - 3:20pm | By International Justice Desk (RNW)
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Uruguayan former dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison for violating the constitution during a 1973 coup, prosecutors said.

The sentence handed down by Judge Mariana Motta should ensure that Bordaberry, who is 81 and been suffering from ill health, should die behind bars.

Bordaberry was elected in 1971 but then dissolved government and headed a 1973 takeover that began a 12-year military dictatorship in the small South American country. He was first arrested in November 2006 for the 1976 murders of four Uruguayans in neighboring Argentina.

Bordaberry is currently under house arrest due to his advanced age and because of his health problems - doctors in 2007 determined that the ex-dictator suffers from "chronic, severe and irreversible" breathing difficulties.

Prosecution lawyer Hebe Martinez Burle said that Motta's ruling "returns what is most sacred to Uruguayans -- the constitution." "We were called crazy when we filed the lawsuit" against Bordaberry in 2002, Martinez Burle told AFP.

"For us this is an emblematic, symbolic issue -- when the constitution is violated, when there is a coup d'etat, in the long term there will be a penalty."

Bordaberry is the second Uruguayan dictator sentenced to a lengthy prison term in the last four months. In October 2009 Uruguay's last military dictator, Gregorio Alvarez, 83, was given a 25-year prison sentence for murder and rights violations during his 1981-1985 rule, which was marked by oppression and disappearances.

Alvarez played a key role in the country's 1973's coup before going on to be commander-in-chief of the army and ultimately the final president of Uruguay's civilian-military dictatorship. Neighboring Argentina got rid of an amnesty for crimes committed under its own 1976-1983 dictatorship, and Chile is prosecuting around 500 soldiers for crimes against humanity carried out during General Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 rule. Democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1985.
 

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From the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, Cambodia and Lebanon, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports on international justice. We offer background news and reporting on war crimes, human rights abuses and genocide.