The New York Times
March 30, 2004

Argentina Convicts 2 for Theft of Babies

UENOS AIRES, March 29 A court sentenced two police officials on Monday to seven years each for stealing babies from murdered political detainees during the 1976-83 so-called Dirty War and handing them over for adoption.

It is the first time that an Argentine court has convicted senior officials under the military dictatorship for stealing babies in a case that could set a precedent for rights groups seeking to bring officials to trial.

Jorge Bergés, a police doctor, and Miguel Etchecolatz, the provincial police chief, were found guilty of arranging the theft of a baby from imprisoned Uruguayan parents in 1977. The parents were later "disappeared" almost certainly murdered by the military dictatorship.

"It serves as an important precedent, but we're not happy with the number of years they were condemned for," Lucas Miguel, an advocate with the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights, said of the sentence. Mr. Etchecolatz was sentenced to 23 years in prison in the 1980's for kidnapping and torture during the dictatorship, but was released under an amnesty law.

Rights organizations say dozens of babies were stolen from prisoners who were forced to give birth in dingy cells.