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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Chile Colonels Jailed For Torturing President Bachelet’s Father

[Michele Bachelet at the UN Security Council; Pesident Bachelet was arrested and forced into exile after the death of her father]

Two retired Chilean colonels have been jailed for repeatedly torturing the father of President Michelle Bachelet in 1973.

General Alberto Bachelet was arrested and tortured for opposing the military coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet.

He died in 1974 of a heart attack caused by the torture inflicted on him.

The former air force colonels – Ramon Caceres Jorquera and Edgar Ceballos Jones – were given three and two years in prison respectively.

They “repeatedly committed the crime of applying torture” to their former superior, judge Mario Carroza said in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Chilean government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said the ruling was “one more step” to address the truth and justice that the country needed.

But a man who was tortured by Ceballos, Sergio Santos, told the AP news agency that the sentences were too lenient.

“I think it seems a bit ridiculous, that after all the years of repression, torture against hundreds of people from different organisations, they get three years,” he said.

More than 3,000 people were killed and up to 40,000 tortured during General Pinochet's 17-year rule.
More than 3,000 people were killed and up to 40,000 tortured during General Pinochet’s 17-year rule.

The two retired colonels had been charged in July 2012, after the conclusion of a forensic report into the death in prison of Gen Bachelet.

Soldiers supporting the coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet take cover as bombs are dropped on the Presidential Palace of La Moneda in this 11 September 1973 file photo President Salvador Allende died inside the Palace of La Moneda on 11 September 1973

Investigators said that Gen Bachelet had died of heart problems aggravated by torture sessions after his arrest.

He had remained loyal to socialist President Salvador Allende, who was deposed in a military coup in 1973.

Gen Bachelet was held in a military academy for six months and tortured by members of the same air force he had led before the coup.

“I was detained in solitary confinement for 26 days,” he later wrote to his family. “I was subjected to torture for 30 hours. They broke me inside.”

Gen Bachelet died on 12 March 1974, aged 50, after a night of interrogation. He was serving a sentence for treason in the capital, Santiago.

His wife, Angela Jeria, and his daughter Michelle were also held and tortured before fleeing to Australia and East Germany.

Ms Bachelet became Chile’s first woman president in 2006.

As the Chilean constitution bans re-election, she stood down at the end of her term in 2010. She was then elected head of the UN women’s agency before returning to Chilean politics.

Last year, Ms Bachelet ran for president again and was elected to a new four-year term.

She and her family have been seeking justice for her father’s death for some time, said the BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago.


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