On 21 December 1983, an investigating judge issued an indictment against Bignone for the disappearance of two members of the Communist Youth Federation (Federación Juvenil Comunista). He was accused of illegal deprivation of liberty, omission to denounce and false testimony.
On 22 December 1983, the Congress annulled the self-amnesty law issued by Bignone. With this, any further obstacle for processing those responsible for the political repression during the dictatorship, including Bignone, was eliminated.
On 10 January 1984, Bignone was accused and imprisoned in the barracks of Campo de Mayo by federal investigating judge Carlos Oliveri, who ordered unconditional imprisonment without right to bail. Bignone would be tried for the disappearance of the conscripts Luis Pablo Steinberg and Luis Daniel García in 1976, when they were doing their compulsory military service in the military academy, which was at that time directed by Bignone. The Supreme Military Tribunal, however, ordered his release from prison on 28 June 1984.
At the same time, judge Luis Córdoba investigated Bignone for the disappearance in 1978 of industrial technician Alfredo Giorgi.
In 1985, Bignone was found guilty of kidnaps, torture and murder carried out while he was head of the detention camps in Campo de Mayo. However, he was freed before finishing his sentence due to the amnesty laws of 23 December 1986 (Due Obedience Law) and of 8 June 1987 (Full Stop Law) issued by Alfonsín.
CASE « SYSTEMATIC PLAN »
In December 1986, six members of the organization “Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo” (Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo) filed a complaint against several retired military leaders for the preparation and execution of a systematic plan to abduct the children born to detained or disappeared mothers and to replace their identities. Among the commanders involved was Bignone. The grandmothers demanded the investigation of the kidnap of around 200 children. This was the beginning of a preliminary phase of a new process against Bignone.
On 21 January 1999, Bignone was arrested and put in preventive prison for the alleged abduction of children born to detained mothers. The judge however, granted him the benefit of serving house arrest due to his age, i.e. 71 years.
In September 1999, the Federal Chamber determined that the crime of systematic child abduction was not subject to statute of limitations, thus rejecting the arguments of the defence of the military. The magistrates also determined that the crime of child abduction could not be considered res judicata because it is a permanent crime and a crime against humanity according to the Inter-American Convention of Forced Disappearance of Persons, which was incorporated into the Argentinean Constitution in 1994. Neither was this crime covered by the amnesty laws Full Stop Law and Due Obedience Law, nor by the pardons granted in 1990 by then President Carlos Menem.
In August 2000, the Supreme Court of Justice determined that the trial with regard to the crime of child abduction during the military dictatorship had to take place before the federal tribunals, instead of the military tribunals.
In August 2003, the Congress declared the Full Stop Law and the Due Obedience Law void, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional with ex tunc effect.
On 23 April 2007, federal judge Guillermo Montenegro determined that Bignone and six other military commanders would face a public oral judgement.
The trial started on 28 February 2011. Bignone was accused in 34 separate cases of children who were taken from mothers held in the clandestine torture and detention centres at the Navy Mechanics School and Campo de Mayo army base. On 5 July 2012, the Federal Tribunal of Buenos Aires sentenced Bignone to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity and particularly for the implementation of a systematic plan to abduct and appropriate 31 minors.
FIRST TRIAL FOR CAMPO DE MAYO
On 8 March 2007, the federal magistrate of the town of San Martin (province of Buenos Aires), Alberto Suaréz Araujo, ordered the arrest of Bignone to face criminal accusations for his alleged participation in cases of forced disappearances and human rights violations committed in the detention centre of Campo de Mayo during the military dictatorship.
On 2 November 2009 a new trial began against Bignone before the Federal Criminal Oral Tribunal of San Martin for crimes against humanity committed in the jurisdiction of Campo de Mayo against 56 victims between 1976 and 1978. He was charged with illegal deprivation of liberty aggravated by torture, unlawful entry and aggravated robbery.
On 20 April 2010 Bignone was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity. Namely, he was found guilty of involvement in 56 cases of murder, torture, deprivation of liberty and illegal break-ins. Bignone who had been under house arrest for many years had to serve his sentence in a regular prison.
The Federal Chamber of Criminal Appeals affirmed the verdict and sentence on 7 December 2012.
SECOND TRIAL FOR CAMPO DE MAYO
The second trial with regard to the Campo de Mayo case started on 27 September 2010.
On 14 April 2011 the San Martin Federal Tribunal sentenced Bignone to life imprisonment. The Tribunal found him guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty, torture, homicide aggravated in case 246 «Diego Muniz Barreto y Juan José Fernández».
The Federal Chamber of Criminal Appeals in its decision of 7 December 2012 confirmed the conviction and sentencing of the first instance tribunal.
CASE HOPITAL POSADAS
On 20 October 2011, a new trial started against Bignone in the case of the clandestine detention centre “Hospital Nacional Profesor Alejandro Posadas”. He was accused of illegal deprivation of liberty of 22 persons and torture of five of them.
On 29 December 2011, the Federal Tribunal of Buenos Aires sentenced Bignone to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity and particularly illegal deprivation of liberty of 15 persons.
On 28 November 2012, the Federal Chamber of Criminal Appeals confirmed the verdict and the sentence.
THIRD TRIAL FOR CAMPO DE MAYO
In the third trial of the Campo de Mayo case, Bignone was charged for his responsibility in human rights violations against 23 people, including 7 pregnant women who were forced to give birth in illegal clandestine centres.
On 12 March 2013, Bignone was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Federal Criminal Oral Tribunal of San Martin for crimes against humanity for his participation in 20 cases of illegal deprivation of liberty, robbery, torture and murder.
TRIAL OF THE « FACTORY WORKERS »
In July 2014, a new trial started against Bignone dealing with the cases of 60 workers, 28 of whom were allegedly kidnapped and tortured and 32 disappeared. Most of the victims were trade union activists.
On 7 October 2014, Bignone was convicted, by the Federal Criminal Oral Tribunal of San Martin, of the kidnapping and torture of 32 factory workers by the military forces in the northern periphery of Buenos Aires. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the forced disappearances of the victims.
TRIAL OF “PLAN CONDOR”
On 5 March 2013, the «Operation Condor» trial started in which 25 accused, including Bignone, were charged with crimes against humanity committed from 1976 to 1983. Operation Condor was a plan set up by the dictators of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the 1970s and 80s which allowed secret police units to cross into one another’s territory to kidnap, torture and kill political opponents who had fled across the border.
On 27 May 2016, Bignone was sentenced to 20 years in prison for being part of an illicit association, kidnapping and abusing his powers in the forced disappearance of more than 100 people. The Court argued that statutory time limits did not apply for in many cases the bodies were not found and the crime of covering up their deaths therefore is continuing.