Argentina 'Dirty War' adoption couple sentenced

An Argentine couple and a former army officer were convicted of charges related to the illegal adoption of a political prisoner's baby during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. (Report: A. Raux)


A court Friday handed down jail terms of up to 10 years in a case brought by a woman against her adoptive parents after she learned she was one of the "stolen babies" of Argentina's "Dirty War.

Maria Cristina Gomez Pinto, 60, and her former husband Osvaldo Rivas, 65, were respectively sentenced to seven and eight years in prison for abducting a minor.

Former soldier Enrique Jose Berthier was also jailed for 10 years for handing over Maria Eugenia Barragan to the couple when she was a new-born baby.

Barragan, who is today 30, knows she was born in 1978, but the circumstances of her birth, and the fate of her parents, remain shrouded in mystery.

The court also ordered that Barragan's identity card should be destroyed as it bore the false name of Eugenia Violeta Rivas.

Numerous young women arrested while pregnant during the country's 1976-1983 military dictatorship gave birth in captivity and were never seen again. Some 500 "stolen babies" were given to families close to the ruling military junta.

About 88 of them have since managed to trace their true identities with the help of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group founded in 1977 to try to find babies stolen during the dictatorship and reunite them with their biological families.

In 2001 Barragan discovered through a DNA test that her adoptive parents were, in her words, "abductors" who had "appropriated" her life.

She cited many reasons why she can no longer consider Rivas and Gomez Pinto her parents.

"There was never any formal adoption. These people registered me as their daughter, with a false birth date and birth place, from a false birth certificate," she said.

"Ask yourself if a person who has stolen a baby ... constantly lied about her origins, mistreated her daily, humiliated and deceived her, if a person who has done all that can know and feel love. I say, no," she said.

About 30,000 people "disappeared" during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship, according to the figures of human rights groups.

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