Chile: Pinochet agents sentenced

On Dec. 29 Chilean judge Haroldo Brito sentenced 13 former security agents to prison terms ranging from five to 18 years for four revenge murders carried out after a September 1986 attempt to kill Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990. Alvaro Corbalan Castilla, the former operations chief of the National Information Center (CNI), received the heaviest sentence, 18 years; he is already serving a 15-year sentence in the 1987 “Operation Albania” murder case. The defendants are expected to appeal the sentences.

The victims were the journalist Jose Carrasco Tapia and three professionals accused of belonging to Chile’s Communist Party (PC): Felipe Rivera, Gaston Vidaurrazaga and Abraham Muskablitt. CNI agents took them from their homes and executed them one day after the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), an armed group associated with the PC, ambushed Pinochet’s motorcade. Five bodyguards were killed in the ambush, but Pinochet was unharmed; he died of heart failure on Dec. 10, 2006, at the age of 91. (Associated Press, Dec. 29; La Capital, Buenos Aires, Dec. 29 from DPA; Miami Herald, Dec. 30 from unidentified wire services; La Jornada, Mexico, Dec. 30)

On Jan. 3 the Santiago Court of Appeals dropped charges against Pinochet’s wife, Lucia Hiriart, and his children Lucia and Veronica Pinochet; they had been indicted as Pinochet’s accomplices in tax evasion and the use of false passports. The court upheld indictments against Pinochet’s youngest son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, and one of his attorneys, Oscar Aitken. Both face tax evasion charges but can still appeal. (Miami Herald, Jan. 4 from wire services)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 7

See our last post on Chile and the Pinochet legacy.