Some of the most notorious figures of Argentina’s “dirty war” were convicted on Thursday of kidnapping, torturing and murdering 22 people at the beginning of the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship when the country cracked down on leftist dissent. \nFamily members of the victims cheered and hugged as a judge handed down the sentences for General Luciano Menendez and former police intelligence chief Roberto Albornoz: life in prison for crimes against humanity committed at a secret detention center in provincial Tucuman. \nTwo former police officers — brothers Luis Armando de Candido and Carlos Esteban de Candido — were sentenced to 18 years and three years, respectively. \nTheir victims included Diana Oesterheld, who was seven months pregnant when she disappeared. Her mother, Elsa Sanchez, said the sentences gave her a feeling of “enormous tranquility” after many years of anxiety. \n“We didn’t have justice for so long,” said Sanchez, whose husband, political cartoonist Hector Oesterheld, and their other three daughters also were killed. \nSanchez, 85, said the verdict has given her the strength to continue searching for Diana’s child. \nMany pregnant prisoners were killed after giving birth in prison, their babies adopted by people allied with the dictatorship. \nThe Tucuman trial riveted Argentina after a protected witness suddenly presented 259 pages of secret documents he smuggled from the detention center and hid in his floorboards for three decades. \nThe evidence included a list of 293 people detained by Albornoz, with notations indicating whether they would live or die. \nThe list provided many family members with the first information about the fate of their loved ones, more than 30 years after they were kidnapped. \nThe documents also include handwritten notes made during torture sessions, reports about spying efforts, the names of intelligence agents and the identities of bodies. Many bear the stamps and signatures of police and military agencies and officials. \nAfter Argentina’s return to democracy, an official commission used missing-person complaints and survivors’ memories to determine that the junta killed about 13,000 people, though human rights groups believe as many as 30,000 died. \nDuring the trial, Menendez justified his leadership of the military response to leftist guerrillas in 10 provinces across northern Argentina by saying they had to prevent a communist takeover. \n“These were not peaceful citizens,” he said. \nThe other defendants said they were following orders. \nIn 2008, Menendez was convicted in Tucuman of the 1976 disappearance of Senator Guillermo Vargas. \nTucuman’s former de-facto governor, Antonio Bussi, also convicted in the Vargas case, was not included in this latest trial due to poor health. \nAbout 20 dictatorship-era human rights cases are being tried this year in Argentina, and verdicts have been reached in 23 others since amnesty laws were overturned in 2005.
Chinese authorities have marshalled extraordinary resources to monitor a herd of traveling elephants and to keep it away from residential areas. Media reports quoted the Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade as saying that a team of eight people have been tracking the elephants, around the clock, on the ground and by drone. In the latest update, authorities said that the herd of wild Asian elephants had been tracked to a forest just outside a village in Xiyang Township, in Yunnan Province, about 90km southwest of the city of Kunming, heading back in the direction they came from. Drone images showed the elephants lying down
Tall, thin and brightly colored, Hanoi’s “tube houses” dominate the city’s streets as 9 million people compete for space in Vietnam’s bustling capital. Although Vietnam saw a number of villas and garden houses built during the French colonial period, Hanoi has few of these grand residential homes. Instead, tree-lined streets are packed with dwellings that are barely 4m wide, but are three times that in depth. Typically, a tube house might be home to a family of four, but two or three generations of relatives sometimes have to jostle for space. The first tube houses — known as nha ong in Vietnamese — are
The head of the Philippine military on Monday visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries. During the visit, Philippine Armed Forces Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana commended service members for the role they played in protecting the island’s residents and “guarding the country’s territories” in the strategic waterway. The visit comes after diplomatic protests made by the Philippines in the past few months over what it says is the illegal presence of hundreds of “Chinese maritime militia” vessels inside
Maori might have been the first to discover Antarctica, with connections to the icy continent and its surrounding oceans stretching back to the seventh century, researchers say. A new paper by University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that Maori were likely the first people to explore Antarctica’s surrounding waters and possibly the continent in the distance. They write that Maori and Polynesian journeys to the deep south have been occurring for a long time, perhaps as far back as the 7th century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions. The oral histories of Maori groups Ngti Rrua