SANTIAGO – A Chilean judge has ordered jail sentences for over 100 former secret police from dictator Augusto Pinochet’s rule.
This week, Judge Hernan Cristoso convicted 106 ex-agents who worked for Pinochet’s DINA intelligence service for the kidnapping and killing of 16 people during “Operation Colombo” in the early years of the 1973-1990 dictatorship.
The 106 ex-agents were sentenced to between 541 days and 20 years in jail. Many are already serving time for other cases.
According to the judge’s ruling, the 16 killed were leftist militants or members of the socialist party who had been arrested by DINA agents in 1974 or 1975 in Santiago. They were transferred to torture centers around the city and were not again seen alive.
At the time, authorities explained the disappearances by saying the victims had fled the country. They later changed their story and said the victims were killed due to internecine fighting.
Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende in September 1973. His secret police collaborated with dictatorships in neighboring Argentina and in Brazil amid a wider crackdown called “Operation Condor.”
During Pinochet’s rule, some 3,000 people died or disappeared in Chile, and thousands more – including current President Michelle Bachelet – were tortured or went into exile.
Also, the state has been ordered to pay around 5 billion Chilean pesos ($7.5 million) to the families of the deceased. ($1 = 670.6800 Chilean pesos)