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Argentina : Protesters slam transfer of dictatorship convicts to house arrest

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Tens of thousands of people turned out across Argentina Saturday to march against a policy allowing ex-military members convicted of crimes during the country's dictatorship to be moved to house arrest.

Demonstrations were held in squares and parks to denounce "setbacks in human rights policy" and to "demand freedom for political prisoners," according to a statement released by organizers.

The main protest was held at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the home of the federal government's executive branch.

At the forefront of the demonstrations were organizations including Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, set up to search for relatives who were victims of forced disappearances.

Less than a week ago, Alfredo Astiz -- who was handed two life sentences for crimes against humanity during the dictatorship -- appeared on a government list of 1,436 inmates who could be transferred to alternative forms of imprisonment for health reasons, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service.

The list included over 100 people handed life sentences for their role during the dictatorship (1976-83).

Astiz, 67, has cancer, an illness that would make him eligible for the program.

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