Hundreds of people celebrated the historic decision. (Photo from Mendoza Online)

The First Federal Oral Court of the city of Mendoza sentenced four former federal judges yesterday to life in prison, in an unprecedented verdict for crimes against humanity committed during the last military dictatorship.

The “judgement of judges” issued maximum penalties to Otilio Roque Romano, Guillermo Max Petra Recabarren, Luis Francisco Miret and Rolando Evaristo Carrizo for failing to investigate allegations of illegal detentions, disappearances and murders that more than 200 people brought to their courts during and after the dictatorship.

This is not the first time that judicial powers have been sentenced for participation in crimes of the military government. The precedent comes from Santa Fe, where the Supreme Court confirmed the sentence of ex-Judge Víctor Brusa to 21 years in prison in 2000.

The Mendoza court, composed of Alejandro Piña, Juan Antonio González Macías and Raúl Fourcade, has sentenced 28 people in total for crimes committed during the dictatorship. The most recent trial, which began in February 2014, was the first in the province to treat sexual crimes as distinct from other crimes, like torture and detention.

The case culminated in yesterday’s “megajuicio,” during which the court sentenced 12 other people to prison for three to 20 years on counts of grave crimes. “I’m not sorry,” said Paulino Furió, the head of the army intelligence unit under the dictatorship, during the trial. “I would do it again.”

As for the four primary convicts, former Judge Miret was sentenced for primary participation in seven acts of aggravated homicide in concurrence with 17 acts of abusive deprivation of liberty, six acts of aggravated torture, three aggravated robberies and one illegal trespass. He was also convicted of necessary participation in one act of aggravated rape.

Former Judge Rolando Evaristo Carrizo was convicted of primary participation in two acts of aggravated homicide in concurrence with 14 acts of abusive deprivation of freedom, two of aggravated torture and one illegal search.

The court found former public defender Petra Recabarren guilty of primary participation in 17 acts of aggravated homicide in concurrence with five acts of abusive deprivation of freedom.

Former prosecutor Romano was sentenced for primary participation in 33 acts of aggravated homicide in concurrence with 25 acts of abusive deprivation of liberty, 36 cases of aggravated torture and an illegal search. He was also charged as a necessary participant in four acts of aggravated rape and five of aggravated sexual abuse, and for perpetuating the failure to investigate an act.

Hundreds of demonstrators from human rights organizations awaited the verdicts at the door of the Federal Court.