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Chile: Glimmer of hope for Pinochet's victims as officers charged in Victor Jara killing

News that a Chilean judge is charging 10 former military officers for the killing of singer and political activist Víctor Jara in 1973 brings a glimmer of hope to the tens of thousands of victims of human rights violations committed during Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship, said Amnesty International today.

Political activist and folk singer Víctor Jara was arrested by Chile’s military and taken to the capital’s National Stadium alongside hundreds of others soon after Augusto Pinochet took power by force on 11 September 1973. He was tortured and shot dead in the stadium.

On Wednesday, Judge Miguel Vázquez charged 10 former military officers with the kidnapping and murder of the singer and of former military police head Littré Quiroga Carvajal.

Ana Piquer Romo, Executive Director at Amnesty International Chile, said:

“These developments show that when there is political will, justice can be done. The authorities must now end the long wait for justice of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances and torture and their families.

“Suspected perpetrators of Pinochet-era abuses must be prosecuted without further delay.

“These historic moves should open a new chapter for justice in Chile and the authorities should ensure no stone is left unturned until all victims and their families are provided with the justice and reparation they are entitled to.”

The announcement on Wednesday came a day after another judge, Judge Mario Carroza, ordered the arrest of seven former military officers in connection with burning two protestors, Rodrigo Rojas, then 19, and Carmen Gloria Quintana, then 18, during an anti-Pinochet protest in 1986.

During the demonstrations, soldiers drenched the pair with petrol and set them on fire. Rodrigo died four days later and Carmen survived and has been fighting for justice ever since.

Tens of thousands of people were detained, tortured, killed or subjected to enforced disappearance during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship between 1973 and 1990.

To date, at least 262 individuals have been sentenced for human rights violations and there are more than 1,100 open judicial proceedings dating back to Pinochet’s rule. 

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