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Argentine judge backs up charges of '70s repression

Military and security forces took part in ''systematic'' abduction, torture, and presumed summary execution of suspected leftists from 1976 to 1979, a federal judge said Wednesday.

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The declaration was considered the first formal recognition by the courts that evidence exists to prove human rights groups' charges of an official apparatus for repression under the former military regime. At least 8,800 people disappeared during the regime's brutal campaign against leftists in the late 1970s.

Meanwhile, an armed forces tribunal ordered the former Third Army Corps commander, Gen. Luciano Menendez, placed under arrest in connection with alleged human rights abuses under the former military regime.