Buenos Aires: Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla, 84, denied ever stealing babies when the military ruled the country from 1976 to 1983, his lawyer told reporters on Saturday.
"I don't know why they called me. I never gave anybody any child," Videla told an investigating judge on Friday, according to his lawyer Luis Carri.
Videla, who ruled from 1976-1981 and is now imprisoned at a military barracks on multiple charges of human rights violations, was summoned for questioning in an identity probe of two adopted children of Clarin newspaper owner Ernestina de Noble.
The ex-dictator was fingered by a former newspaper owner who months ago said a former Clarin director had told him he personally asked Videla to obtain two babies for de Noble.
Some 500 children, mostly born to women who "disappeared" during the military dictatorship, were kidnapped and turned over for illegal adoption, according to human rights group Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.
Since 1984, the group has been able to establish the identity of 98 of them.
Videla was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes in 1985. He was pardoned and released in 1990 only to be arrested again in 1998 for baby-snatching and other charges not included in his pardons.
During the years of junta rule some 30,000 people vanished and are still unaccounted for.
First Published: Sunday, November 29, 2009, 12:50