The Argentine military dictator, who according to report killed thousands of dissidents from 1976 to 1983 died of natural causes while serving a sentence for human rights crimes.
Unrepentant till death concerning the kidnappings and murders ordered by the state, Videla accompanied by Emilio Massera and Orlando Agosti, led a military coup on March 24, 1976 that brought down the presidency of Isabel Peron, the widow of the renowned Argentine leader Juan Domingo Peron.
He became the first president of the dictatorship, a period marked by the disappearance of thousands of people, torture and the kidnapping of babies from people that had been illegally detained by the army.
Known as the Dirty War, the crackdown on leftist opponents left 30,000 kidnapped and murdered, according to human rights groups. Current government figures put the count closer to 11,000.
At the time, many Argentines tacitly supported the military regime.
Dozens of women began marching in Buenos Aires’ famous Plaza de Mayo public square, located right in front of government house, to demand information about their children that had disappeared. They would become known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a renowned human rights organisation.
Argentina came close to war with neighbouring Chile during Videla’s presidency over the sovereignty of a group of icy Patagonian islands in a border area.
But the countries also cooperated on a secret pact with other Latin American military regimes to hunt down opponents. Known as the “Operation Condor”, the accord came into effect in 1975.
When democracy returned to the South American country in 1983, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment for the human rights crimes committed during his five years at the helm of the military junta.
But he spent just five years behind bars following a pardon granted in 1990 by then president, Carlos Menem.
Eight years later, a judge scrapped Videla’s pardon, ruling that the stealing of babies constituted a human rights crime.
Videla was jailed for life in 2010 for murder, torture and kidnapping and received an additional sentence in 2012 after being convicted of devising a plan to steal infants from the “disappeared”.