Life terms in rights case
Seven retired military officers were sentenced to life in prison for rights abuses committed during the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, officials said on Saturday. The seven were found guilty of kidnapping, torture and homicide in the case of 69 people who were held at navy bases in the city of Mar del Plata, 400km south of Buenos Aires. The case was brought by relatives of victims and rights groups, including the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Sixteen people were originally indicted, but two died before the trial could end and a third was absolved for health reasons, the Center of Judicial Information, an office attached to the Supreme Court, said in a statement. About 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed in what became known as the nation’s “dirty war,” according to rights groups. A blanket pardon for crimes committed during the dictatorship was overturned in 2003, paving the way for scores of lawsuits.
Man held over cruise death
A California man has been arrested in southwest Florida on an outstanding murder warrant in the death of his ex-wife, who went overboard from an Italian cruise ship seven years ago. Lonnie Kocontes, 55, was taken into custody on Friday night by federal marshals and booked into the Pasco County Jail, where he was being held without bail, authorities said. He was charged with one count of special circumstances murder for financial gain, Orange County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said. Kocontes’ ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, plunged into the Mediterranean on May 26, 2006, off the Island Escape, which was sailing between Sicily and Naples, according to the FBI. Her body washed ashore the next day in Calabria, Italy. Kanesaki, 52, was sharing a cabin with Kocontes, her ex-husband.
Conviction thrown out
An Alabama appeals court has thrown out the conviction and death sentence of a Vietnamese immigrant tried for killing four children in 2008 by throwing them off a coastal bridge. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Friday that the trial of Lam Luong should have been moved outside of Mobile County because “publicity surrounding the murders completely saturated” the community. Web site Al.com reported that judges have sent the murder case back to Mobile County Circuit Court. Prosecutors say Luong killed the four children — whose ages ranged from three years to four months — by throwing them off the Dauphin Island bridge one-by-one and into the Mississippi Sound more than 24m below. Three were his children and the fourth was his wife’s from a previous relationship.