MONTEVIDEO — Juan Maria Bordaberry, the civilian politician who ushered in Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship, died Sunday while under house arrest, relatives said. He was 83.
Bordaberry was serving a 30-year prison term on charges of subverting the country's constitution and violating human rights, but given his advanced age and weak health was able to serve out his sentence at home.
The ex-dictator died around 0820 GMT Sunday of a heart ailment, said a spokesman for Senator Pedro Bordaberry, the ex-dictator's son.
"He has been very sick for the past two years, and was very weak for the past day," senator Bordaberry's spokesman Jose Maria Goycochea told the daily El Pais.
A local funeral home told AFP that Bordaberry's funeral will be held late Sunday in Canelones state, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the capital, Montevideo.
Only close relatives of the former dictator were allowed into the wake, which was held at his son's house.
The late dictator will not be buried with state honors after the left-wing coalition in power, headed by President Jose Mujica -- a former top leader of the rebel Tupamaros National Liberation Movement -- banned such honors for dictatorship-era leaders.
Deeply conservative and a devout Roman Catholic, Bordaberry was born in Montevideo in 1928. He was became active in politics in the 1950s, was elected senator 1963-1965, and served as agriculture minister 1969-1971, when he ran for president.
With Cuban-inspired Tupamaro guerrillas engaged in a wave of attacks and the military under orders to quash unrest, Bordaberry took office in March 1972 in a highly-polarized political environment.
The following year, seeking to thwart a military uprising but lacking political support, he agreed to join the coup and close down congress. The arrangement with the military lasted until 1976, when he was replaced by another right-wing politician.
Democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1985.
Bordaberry lived quietly in his cattle ranch until 2006, when he was arrested in a case involving four murders, including the 1976 deaths two Uruguayan legislators in neighboring Argentina.
In March 2010 Bordaberry was rolled into a court house hooked up to an oxygen tank to hear a judge sentence him to 30 years in prison.
A presidential peace commission established in 2000 found that 38 people were abducted, and either were executed or died as a result of torture during the military dictatorship.
Many Uruguayan citizens however were detained and executed in Argentina, and others were detained in Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia during that period, the commission found.
Uruguay's military often worked with the militaries of neighboring nations, putting into effect a secret plan called "Operation Condor" to eliminate leftist political opponents.
Uruguay's last military dictator, general Gregorio Alvarez, 84, was sentenced to 25 years prison in 2009 for murder and rights violations during his 1981-1985 rule.
In April, Uruguay's senate approved overturning an amnesty for military officers accused of abuses during the dictatorship period.
The vote came after Uruguay's Supreme Court ruled three times that the amnesty was unconstitutional, and overturned referendums in 1989 and 2009 upholding the amnesty rule.
Neighboring Argentina got rid of an amnesty for crimes committed under its own 1976-1983 dictatorship, and Chile is prosecuting around 500 soldiers for crimes against humanity carried out during General Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 rule.
In late June president Mujica announced he would reopen some 80 investigations into crimes committed during the dictatorship period.
Bordaberry was married to Josefina Herran, and the couple had nine children.
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