Trelew massacre: Army officers get life in prison

Three former-army officers in Argentina have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity during the Trelew massacre, when 16 jailed rebel fighters were killed in 1972.

Luis Sosa, Emilio Del Real and Carlos Marandino were convicted on Monday for their roles in the shootings, which happened at an airbase near the city of Trelew after a failed jailbreak, reported BBC News. Later known as the Trelew massacre, the incident occurred amid escalating violence that led to Argentina's 1976 military coup and "dirty war."

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Prior to the shootings, a judge publicly guaranteed the 16 rebel fighters' safety, according to the Associated Press. Judge Enrique Guanziroli called the sentencings long-delayed justice, but the three defendants' lawyers are preparing an appeal, saying the killings don’t qualify as crimes against humanity.

Last year, several high-profile army officials were tried over their role in the crackdown against activists and militants from 1976 to 1982, BBC also noted. Two other officers charged in the Trelew case, Jorge Bautista and Rubén Paccanini, have been acquitted.

The prisoners killed in 1972 were 16 of 27 rebels who escaped from Argentina's Rawson Penitentiary. Soldiers recaptured 19 of them, and they were transferred to the Trelew airbase, where 16 were executed in retaliation for the successful escape of the others.