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Massive indictments for human rights crimes

A Chilean judge ordered today the arrest and indictment of more than 120 former intelligence agents from the Pinochet dictatorship under charges of crimes against humanity in three major operations that took place in the 1970s.

Judge Victor Montiglio’s decision marked the first massive indictment for human rights crimes here since the courts began serious efforts in 2000 to investigate human rights violations during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

The crimes include the disappearance of the entire Communist party leadership in 1976, in a case known as “calle Conferencia,” in reference to the street where they were abducted, and an operation known as “Colombo,” in which 119 opponents were made to disappear in 1975. This was a scandalous case — the regime, with the cooperation of its counterparts in Argentina and Brazil, mounted a cover-up operation by fabricating newspapers in those countries listing the names of the victims as having been killed in political infighting within their own organizations.

The indictments also include those responsible for crimes in “Operation Condor,” a network of intelligence services in the Southern Cone set up in the mid-70s at the behest of the Chilean agency National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) to collaborate in the exchange of information and prisoners in member countries. The Chilean partner in Condor, DINA, took this cooperation one step forward by carrying out assassinations abroad, such as the car bomb murder of Orlando Letelier and his U.S. colleague Ronni Moffit in Washington, D.C. in 1976, among others.

Over half of the agents indicted today had never been indicted or arrested for other human rights crimes previously. Montiglio is indicting everyone involved in these events, from those who transported prisoners or were guards in clandestine detention centers, to those directly responsible for their death and disappearance.

They include retired army officers, dozens of non-commissioned army officers, and  members of the Air Force and Carabineros police.