House Arrest Not Prison for Pinochet’s Agents :Piñera

The prisoners would be transferred to the luxurious Punta Penco, a special prison built in 1995 for human rights violators with tennis courts and rooftop terraces.

Chile’s former right-wing president Sebastian Piñera said Monday that he will convert the prison sentences ordered for former agents of the Pinochet dictatorship for human rights crimes into house arrest when they are in the latest stage of cancer, if elected in the coming November presidential elections.

“For humanitarian reasons we should, not grant pardon, but convert the prison sentence into house arrest so (they) can die with dignity along with their loved ones — a right for every single human being,” he told radio Cooperativa.

He added that house arrest would mean a transfer to the luxurious Punta Penco, a special prison built in 1995 about 22 miles from the capital, meant to provide people sentenced over human rights crimes with tennis courts, rooftop terraces for barbecues, among other services.

His comments come after Chile’s supreme court sentenced 33 former intelligence agents of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship on Thursday for the forced disappearances of five communist activists in 1987 who were kidnapped, drugged and dumped in the sea.

The court sentenced the defendants to between three and 15 years in prison for the abduction and disappearance of the five members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriot Front, the militant wing of the country’s Communist Party. Twenty-one other officials were sentenced to 10 years in prison for their involvement in the event.

Among the people sentenced, three agents had requested pardons on the ground of being terminally ill.

During former President Sebastian Piñera’s candidacy launch on Tuesday at the National Museum of Natural History, small groups shouted slogans in favor of the former dictator on several occasions, sparking outrage on social media. Piñera later said he did not support the chants.

Piñera was president between 2010 and 2014 and was not able to run for re-election, as the Chilean law forbids it. This will be Piñera’s third presidential race after he lost his first bid in 2006 against current president Michelle Bachelet, and later won in 2010.

Piñera is caught up in a legal investigation against him and some of his collaborators in cases of alleged corruption, accusations which he denies.

The former president’s candidacy needs to be ratified through a primary election which is scheduled to take place on July 2.