Ex-lieutenant found liable for Victor Jara slaying

A six-person jury for the US Middle District of Florida in Orlando found Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez liable for the 1973 detention, torture and execution of Chilean folksinger Víctor Jara. The court ordered Barrientos to pay $28 million in damages, $8 million in compensatory damages, and $20 million in punitive damages. The jury found that Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Fla., shot Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings and torture. The singer was among thousands of leftists detained in Santiago's football stadium after Augusto Pinochet's coup d'etat against Chile's democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende. Barrientos was then serving as a lieutenant in Chile's armed forces. He fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage. He was one of nine retired army officers indicted for the murder in Chile four years ago, but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request for his extradition.

Joan Jara, the singer's 88-year old widow, attended the trial. After the verdict, she said: "It has been a long journey seeking justice for Victor's death. His songs continue to be sung today, and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. Today, there is some justice for Victor's death, and for the thousands of families in Chile who have sought truth. I hope that the verdict today continues the healing."

C. Dixon Osburn of the Center for Justice and Accountability, which helped prosecute the case, said: “We believe that perpetrators of the worst human rights crimes should be held to account, no matter how long it takes or where they try to hide. We must strive for a world where all can live freely, unafraid to speak up or sing out for equality, opportunity and responsibility. We hope that the verdict today provides some measure of justice and accountability for those who have fought so hard to see this day."

CJA legal director Kathy Roberts said: "This is the first trial seeking accountability for the death of Víctor Jara. The verdict in this case represents another signficant step to understanding what happened at Chile Stadium in the first days after the 1973 coup. I could not be more proud of the Jara family in this moment, and I thank them for their unwavering strength and perseverance." (CJA, The Guardian, NYT, June 27)

Nine Chilean ex-soldiers sentenced in Victor Jara killing

A judge in Chile found eight retired soldiers guilty of the 1973 murder of folk singer Victor Jara. A ninth suspect was sentenced for his role as an accessory to Jara's murder. Eight of the former military officers were sentenced to 15 years each for the murder of jara and his comrade Littre Quiroga Carvajal, and three more years for kidnapping them. The ninth was given five years for his role as an accessory to  the murders. (BBC News)

Ex-army chief convicted for Pinochet-era crimes

A Chilean court convicted the former army commander-in-chief of complicity in the deaths of 15 people following the 1973 military coup. Gen. Juan Emilio Cheyre was sentenced to three years and a day under house arrest. He is the most senior figure to be held accountable so far for abuses carried out during the regime of Augusto Pinochet. The killings were carried out by the notorious "Caravan of Death," a military unit sent by Gen. Pinochet to remote Chilean areas to hunt down opposition activists. (BBC News)