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ARGENTINA’S PRESIDENT PARDONS 280 MILITARY OFFICERS AND CIVILIANS

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President Carlos Menem Saturday pardoned 280 military officers and civilians accused of terrorism, rebellion and human rights crimes in a move designed to "reconcile and pacify" a nation bitterly divided by its past.

Among those receiving pardons were three former junta members sentenced to long prison terms for their roles in the abortive invasion of the British-held Falkland Islands in 1982. They are former president Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, ex-navy commander Jorge Anaya and former air force commander Basilio Lami Dozo."I know that many will be unhappy with this measure, but I am convinced that millions of Argentines are applauding it," Menem told a news conference in his home province of La Rioja.

He said he signed the pardons to "reconcile and pacify the Argentines," healing wounds resulting from decades of military rule.

Also receiving pardons were several leaders of the Montonero guerrilla movement, a radical Peronist group, including former Buenos Aires Gov. Oscar Bidegain and Rodolfo Galimberti, former head of Peronist Youth.

Thirty-nine military officers accused of human rights crimes in the 1970s, when 9,000 political prisoners "disappeared," also were pardoned, as were 174 officers and men who took part in three unsuccessful military uprisings against the government of President Raul Alfonsin, who left office July 8.

The renegade officers are still subject, however, to administrative disciplinary measures. The pardon exempts them from civil penalties, but not from military sanctions.

The names of several prominent military officers and guerrilla leaders were conspiciously absent from the pardon list. The exceptions included nine former junta members imprisoned for human rights crimes, including former presidents Gen. Jorge Videla and Gen. Roberto Viola.

Also failing to qualify were former Buenos Aires police chief Gen. Ramon Camps, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights crimes, and former 1st Army commander Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason, who was extradited from the United States on May 9, 1988, to face trial in Argentina for human rights crimes.

Montonero leader Mario Firmenich, now serving a life sentence for kidnapping industrialists Juan and Jorge Born in 1974, was not pardoned, nor were the 20 civilians convicted Thursday for a Jan. 23 attack on the 3rd Infantry barracks at the La Tablada army base in Buenos Aires Province, an assault in which 39 persons died.