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Ex-Argentine Junta Leader Charged

November 25, 1998

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Military leaders who conducted Argentina’s ``dirty war″ are once again facing charges linked to that violent era, eight years after they received a presidential pardon.

Accusations of child kidnapping have landed Emilio Eduardo Massera and Jorge Videla _ members of the junta that reigned from 1976-83 _ back in court.

Massera, a former naval admiral, was arrested Tuesday after spending the day in a court answering questions surrounding the case of two children born to parents in captivity.

Both men face similar charges of child kidnapping. Their cases are not covered under the 1990 pardon granted junta members by President Carlos Menem.

Human rights groups say that children born to dissidents held in captivity during the ``dirty war″ were frequently adopted by military officials. Massera’s case involves the children of Patricia Roisinblit and Cecilian Vinas, two women who disappeared in 1976 from the Navy Mechanics School.

Vinas’ son was raised by one of Massera’s chief assistants. At age 20, he took a genetic test that helped showed who his parents were. His biological father, Reynaldo Penin, was also among the disappeared.

Massera’s lawyer, Miguel Arce Aggeo, vehemently denied the kidnapping charge and said he planned to fight his arrest.

The retired admiral will have to make another court appearance in December in a separate case involving other children born to parents in captivity.

Videla, a former army lieutenant general, is already confined to his home following a judge’s ruling in June.

As the navy’s highest ranking officer, Massera was responsible for a military school that was converted into a clandestine torture and killing center during the seven-year military dictatorship.

The Argentine government says nearly 9,000 people disappeared during the military regime’s war on leftists and dissidents. Human rights groups says the figure is closer to 30,000.

Those groups praised Massera’s detainment on Tuesday.

The head of the Grandmothers’ of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, said ``it was great news″ that one of the leading figures of the dictatorship was being held.

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