Ex-soldiers jailed for Chile folk singer’s murder in 1973

SANTIAGO – A judge has sentenced eight retired military officers to a total of 18 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Chile’s most famous folk singer Victor Jara and a government official at the start of the Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship some 45 years ago.

Eight soldiers were sentenced to 15 years, the ninth was given five for cover-up, a statement from Chile’s courts authority said.

Jara, 40, was a celebrated singer, theater director and university professor who sympathized with the socialist government of Salvador Allende, who was ousted in the 1973 coup.

Jara’s work, and the nature of his death, inspired tributes from artists including Bruce Springsteen, the Clash and U2.

His family, including British-born ballerina wife Joan and his daughter Amanda, has fought a long-running campaign for justice in his case and had his body exhumed in 2009 for a full autopsy.

In 2016, a civil court jury in Florida found another former military official, retired army lieutenant Pedro Barrientos, liable for torturing and killing Jara.

Barrientos, who lives in Florida but whose extradition to Chile is currently under U.S. consideration, was also ordered to pay $28m in damages to Jara’s family.

The case against Barrientos was filed by the US-based Center for Justice and Accountability, a human rights advocacy group, on behalf of Jara’s widow, his daughter and step-daughter.

A court in the capital Santiago heard Tuesday how the Marxist folk singer was seized in the hours after Gen. Pinochet overthrew socialist President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973. He was taken the country’s main soccer stadium where he was tortured and killed.

Allende’s prisons chief Littre Quiroga also was killed.

The ruling announced by Miguel Vázquez can be appealed.

During Pinochet’s rule, which lasted until 1990, an estimated 3,200 people were killed and 28,000 tortured by the state.

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