Chile sentences 35 Pinochet agents for pregnant woman’s murder

SANTIAGO – A Chilean judge has sentenced 35 former agents of General Augusto Pinochet’s feared secret police for the kidnapping, detention and forced disappearance of a pregnant woman in 1976.

Reinalda del Carmen Pereira Plaza was five months pregnant at the time. The 29-year-old was a medical technician and a member of the Communist Party who collaborated with dissidents resisting Pinochet’s 1976-1990 dictatorship.

Judge Miguel Vazquez on Wednesday sentenced Pedro Espinoza, Juan Hernan Morales and Ricardo Victor Lawrence to 10 years in prison. Other male and female agents were sentenced to seven years for involvement in the crime, while others were sentenced to four years for being complicit.

One of the leading officers involved has seen his total sentence raised to 500 years.

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The judge determined that Pereira was kidnapped Dec. 15, 1976, and taken to a secret military barracks where she was beaten, tortured and disappeared.

The ruling dictated that the case was part of “a large-scale operation that obeyed a policy of investigation, persecution and disarticulation of the Communist Party and not, an isolated fact.”

During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, according to official data, some 3,200 Chileans died at the hands of State agents, of whom 1,192 still appear as disappeared detainees – nine cases correspond to pregnant women.