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02/09/2009 | Chile soldiers, police sought over Pinochet-era abuse

A.F.P.

A Chilean judge ordered the arrest of at least 129 former Chilean soldiers and police for human rights violations during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, court sources said.

The arrest warrants issued by Judge Victor Montiglio were directed against former agents of the National Intelligence Directorate, a feared political police unit known as the DINA by its Spanish-language initials.

 

Named in the order were retired military officers who had never before been brought before the court and former non-commissioned officers from the air force, navy and police services, the source who had access to the order said.

The warrants are related to "Operation Condor," a violent campaign in the 1970s by the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to assassinate opponents of their regimes. Hundreds of people are believed to have disappeared in the operation.

They also target those who oversaw and conducted "Operation Colombo" during which 119 Chilean members of the opposition were killed in 1975. Also concerned are the cases of 10 communists who disappeared from their Santiago base on Conferencia Street in 1976.

"Basically we are investigating anyone who was in the barracks, in so far as they participated in, sought to participate in or had knowledge of deprivation of victims' freedoms. We are much closer to the end," the judge told Radio Cooperativa.

A legal source told AFP that the arrest order will be carried out in a staggered manner through Friday and that all those targeted for arrest will face charges of kidnapping.

Montiglio took over the investigation in 2006, replacing judge Juan Guzman, who in 1998 began the inquest marked by contradictory testimony and other disputes which delayed any decision.

"There are important elements in this case that need to be resolved, so the minister (judge) has asked us to use discretion so that the exhaustive work on these important human rights investigations of Operation Colombo, Operation Condor and Conferencia can be completed," said Boris Paredes, a lawyer representing the interior ministry.

Pinochet's 1973-1990 military regime is blamed for human rights abuses including some 3,000 deaths and disappearances.

Pinochet died in December 2006 at a military hospital in Santiago, at the age of 91, after evading repeated attempts to bring him to trial.

Two weeks before his death, Pinochet took responsibility for actions committed under his rule, but never apologized for the suffering he caused.

GoogleNews (Estados Unidos)

 


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