Retired Gen. Antonio Bussi, sentenced to life in prison for his role in Argentina's murderous 1976-1983 military regime, died in a hospital in the northern city of Tucuman. He was 85.

He was admitted to the hospital earlier this month suffering from chronic heart problems and end-stage kidney failure.

Bussi and his then-superior, Gen. Luciano Menendez, commander of the Argentine army's 3rd Corps, were prominent figures in the military regime.

The junta's "dirty war" against what it called subversion killed at least 23,000 people, according to a declassified CIA document published by the National Security Archive, an independent research outfit in Washington.

Sentenced to life in prison in August 2008 for the 1976 abduction, torture and murder of Sen. Guillermo Vargas Aignasse, Bussi oversaw 30 clandestine jails in Tucuman during the dictatorship.

He reported to Menendez, who has been convicted of crimes against humanity in six separate cases.

During his trial, Bussi claimed he was the victim of political persecution by "yesterday's vanquished in a just and necessary war (against) Marxist and Leninist aggression."

The junta leaders and those who carried out their orders were long shielded from prosecution thanks to amnesties approved by the Argentine Congress in the 1980s.

But lawmakers repealed those laws in 2003, opening the door for judges and prosecutors to re-open investigations of the crimes of the dictatorship.