The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet continues to cast a long shadow over Chile.
A court has sentenced 19 former agents of Pinochet over the forced disappearances of more than a dozen Communist Party leaders and one homicide in 1976. The victims were involved in political activities against the dictatorship when they were arrested. Several of them died later in the “Simon Bolivar” military facility, a secret complex which was only revealed to the public a few years ago. It is believed that no prisoners ever left the building alive. The victims were tortured with sticks, injections of cyanide and sarin gas, according to the confessions of a former agent from the National Intelligence Service, DINA. Their bodies were sealed in bags and thrown into the ocean, or buried underground. DINA’s former director Pedr0 Espinoza was sentenced to a 20 years in prison, adding to previous terms of over 500 years. The other 18 former agents were sentenced to periods of between 5 and 20 years.
In the meantime, a French woman wanted in Chile for the alleged assassination of a senator under the Pinochet dictatorship arrived in Paris last week after spending over a year in an Indian jail awaiting extradition. Marie-Emmanuelle Verhoeven, 57, landed at Charles De Gaulle airport last Thursday after India dropped extradition proceedings against her.
Following a court hearing last Wednesday, the Indian foreign ministry said it had let her leave the country on “medical and humanitarian grounds” and because France has undertaken to examine Chile’s extradition request.
Verhoeven was arrested on the India-Nepal border, where she was on a Buddhist pilgrimage, on 16 February 2105 following a request by Chilean authorities, who suspect her of involvement in the 1991 assassination of Jaime Guzman, a senator considered to have been one of the main backers of Pinochet’s regime which lasted from 1973 to 1990. The killing was blamed on the far-left Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez, which investigators claim Verhoeven belonged to, going under the pseudonym of “Commander Ana”. After her arrest in India she spent 16 months in a high-security prison before being released on bail. She claims the charges are politically motivated, saying that she demonstrated against the dictatorship but had nothing to do with the assassination.
Further News: Latin America News 3 Aug 2017