The three members of the ruling junta led by former president Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri have been sentenced to prison terms of from eight to 14 years and stripped of their rank for their incompetent performance during the 1982 Falklands War, the Defense Ministry announced today.
Former Army commander Galtieri received a 12-year jail sentence while one-time Navy chief Adm. Jorge Anaya and ex-Air Force leader Brig. Gen. Basilio Lami Dozo received 14-year and 8-year sentences respectively.
Argentine troops occupied the South Atlantic islands, long claimed by this country and known here as the Malvinas, on April 2, 1982. A British expeditionary force retook the islands after heavy fighting.
The once all-powerful military leaders had been found guilty last year by the armed services court of negligence in the prosecution of the 72-day war.
The court's announcement was preceded by bombing attacks at six district offices of Argentina's ruling Radical Civic Union last night, in which a 15-year-old girl was injured by flying glass. A seventh bomb at another party office did not go off and was deactivated by police.
Although the timing of the attacks caused speculation that they were linked with the Falklands sentences, officials seemed to discount such reports, blaming unnamed far right groups for the attack.
Since taking office 30 months ago, the democratically elected government of President Raul Alfonsin has appeared at times unable to rein in renegade sectors of the intelligence services who remain loyal to the military factions that carried out a so-called "dirty war" against leftist guerrillas and other dissidents during the 1970s.
The junta leaders' sentences must be reviewed by the federal appeals court. If they are confirmed, officials said, they will be countersigned by Alfonsin.
Anaya's sentence was two years more than had been asked for by the military prosecutor, and reflected widespread disillusionment with his service's performance during the war.
The Defense Ministry also said that other officers on trial, including retired general Mario Benjamin Menendez, who served as the islands' military governor during the invasion and surrendered to the British, were acquitted or received minor disciplinary sanctions.
Military sources have said that at least 1,000 Argentines died in the fighting, while the British put their war dead at 255 men.
Nine former military rulers, including the three junta members sentenced in the Falklands trials, were tried last year for their role in the "dirty war" in which about 9,000 people disappeared. However, the three who were found guilty for their role in the Falklands were acquitted of human rights violations in the earlier trial even though they formed the third consecutive government under which the antiguerrilla drive was conducted.