Chilean lawmakers demand closure of luxury prison

Chilean lawmakers Wednesday asked President Michelle Bachelet to close a last remaining special prison for former military officers convicted of human rights abuses, but living in relative luxury.

About 50 prisoners live in the Punta Peuco facility, including former secret police chief Manuel Contreras, sentenced to 100 years in prison for kidnappings, torture and executions under former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

By a vote of 53 to 20, the Chilean lower house passed a resolution calling on Bachelet "to take all necessary steps to close the Punta Peuco special detention center."

"Not one single center or institution should remain in Chile that favors unequal treatment of the people who are serving a sentence such as occurs in Punta Peuco."

They also called for the prisoners to be stripped of their military rank and pay, and their photographs be removed from military barracks.

The resolution highlighted the country club-like facilities at Punta Peuca with its "green areas, a pool and tennis court," as well as "a dozen cabins with two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, heating, Internet access and telephone access."

The country's other 53,000 inmates are housed in overcrowded prisons.

Last year, right-wing president Sebastian Pinera ordered the closure of the Penal Cordillera prison, a smaller detention center where a dozen convicted military officers lived in even more luxurious conditions.

Both facilities were created by the center-left government that came after the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship when 3,200 people died or went missing.

rto/bfm/jm