Argentine dictatorship`s Army chief dies in prison

Cristino Nicolaides, 86, died "after pulmonary complications".

Updated: Jan 24, 2011, 11:23 AM IST

Buenos Aires: A former Argentine Army chief during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship has died in prison ahead of a new trial for his part in the kidnapping of babies during that regime, his lawyer has said.

Cristino Nicolaides, 86, died late Saturday "after pulmonary complications, and his remains were cremated today," Alejandro Zeverin told news agency DyN on Sunday.

Nicolaides was due to face a new trial on March 07 over 33 cases of babies being kidnapped during the dictatorship.

In total, an estimated 500 children born to opponents of the government who were taken and given to those deemed loyal to the authorities during Argentina`s "dirty war" against leftists, according to figures from the rights group `Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo`.

The retired general had been the first high-ranking officer of Argentina`s dictatorship to be convicted for its crimes when he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2007.

Human rights activists say some 30,000 Argentines "disappeared" during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, and fewer than 100 of the babies born during their mothers` captivity at clandestine detention centres have discovered their true identity.