Chile jails Pinochet agents over human rights abuses

SANTIAGO – A Chilean court has sentenced 19 former agents of the former military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, over the forced disappearances of more than a dozen Communist Party leaders and one homicide in 1976.

Judge Leopoldo Llanos, ruling at the Appeal Court in Santiago, said they were detained during an operation designed to kill them.

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. No prisoners ever left the building alive.

The victims were also tortured with sticks, injections of cyanide and sarin gas, according to the confessions of a former agent from the National Intelligence Service, DINA. The corpses were sealed in bags and thrown into the ocean, or buried underground.

One of the victims’ bodies, Eduardo Canteros Prado, was found in March 1990 along with two others on a plot near Santiago, after the army sold the land to a construction firm.

DINA’s former director Pedor Espinoza was sentenced to a 20 years in prison, adding to previous terms of over 500 years.

DINA’s former director Pedor Espinoza.–File photo

The other 18 former agents were sentenced to 5 to 20 years.

During Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990) about 3,200 Chileans were killed by state terrorism, including 1,192 who are still registered as disappeared.

More than 33,000 victims of torture had been imprisoned for political reasons.