Pinochet Watch no 56
Pinochet Watch is an electronic news service of the Institute for Policy Studies.
In this issue:
- CHILEAN INVESTIGATION INTO SECRET PINOCHET ACCOUNTS AT RIGGS BANK
- TEXT & ANALYSIS OF DECISION TO STRIP PINOCHET OF IMMUNITY
- RESEARCH ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FROM MEMORIA Y JUSTICIA
- PINOCHET GAVE ORDERS; BODIES BURNED: La Nación Report
Last week, a US Senate investigation revealed that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet maintained accounts in Riggs Bank from 1994-1998 with balances ranging from $4-$8 million. Riggs Bank helped Pinochet hide these accounts from judges and prosecutors investigating the General's role in human rights crimes.
The text of the Washington Post article that broke this story is available at: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50222-2004Jul14.html.
For full text of the Senate Subcommittee Report, see: PDF document.
According to the Report of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed up by Republican Chairman Norm Coleman and Ranking Minority Member Carl Levin:
"...Riggs opened multiple accounts and accepted millions of dollars in deposits from Mr. Pinochet with no serious inquiry into questions regarding the source of his wealth; helped him set up offshore shell corporations and open accounts in the names of those corporations to disguise his control of the accounts; altered the names of his personal accounts to disguise their ownership; transferred $1.6 million from London to the United States while Mr. Pinochet was in detention and the subject of a court order to attach his bank accounts; conducted transactions through Riggs' own accounts to hide Mr. Pinochet's involvement in some cash transactions; and delivered over $1.9 million in cashiers checks to Mr. Pinochet in Chile to enable him to obtain substantial cash payments from banks in that country.
The Subcommittee concluded that that:
"Riggs Bank assisted Augusto Pinochet, former president of Chile, to evade legal proceedings related to his Riggs bank accounts and resisted OCC oversight of these accounts, despite red flags involving the source of Mr. Pinochet's wealth, pending legal proceedings to freeze his assets, and public allegations of serious wrongdoing by this client."
The Subcommittee elaborated that Riggs "deliberately assisted" Pinochet "in the concealment and movement of his funds while he was under investigation and the subject of a world-wide court order freezing his assets." This, in reference to the October 1998 attachment order, issued by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón and upheld by the Spanish Audencia Nacional, against all accounts in any country held by Pinochet, his family members, or third parties in any country.
In addition to the $4 - $8 million Pinochet had in his accounts, Riggs indicated in a client profile that Pinochet had "an estimated personal net worth of $50 to $100 million."
In Chile, these revelations led to outcry and the filing of new legal cases against the aging General.
Upon learning of the US Senate Subcommittee Report, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos responded: "I think that all Chileans are aware that we are all equal before the law and if there are irregular situations obviously we must all respond for them." President Lagos discussed the Riggs accounts with US President George Bush in a meeting in Washington last Monday. In that meeting, President Bush insisted that the US would fully investigate Riggs' concealment of Pinochet accounts, as well.
That same day, a spokesperson for the Lagos government announced that the Chilean government would not interfere in the legal investigation into Pinochet's accounts by invoking "reasons of State" as occurred in 1996 during the so-called "Pinocheques" scandal involving checks issued to Pinochet's son by the Chilean Army.
Last week, Chilean lawyers Carmen Hertz and Alfonso Insunza filed criminal charges against Pinochet for fiscal fraud, bribery, money laundering and other financial crimes. The Chilean government designated a special judge, Sergio Muñoz, to investigate these allegations. The Chilean State Defense Council (CDE) has also begun investigations into Pinochet's Riggs accounts and will be a party to the case pending before Judge Muñoz. CDE President Clara Szczaranski told press last week that an initial evaluation of Pinochet's Riggs accounts suggests money laundering.
Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán, who oversees a number of human rights cases against Pinochet, has additionally accepted a request by the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared and a group of Chilean human rights lawyers including Fabiola Letelier, Julia Urquieta, and Hugo Gutierrez, to investigate and possibly freeze Pinochet's assets with an eye towards potentially compensating victims of human rights violations.
Two of Pinochet's children, Marco Antonio Pinochet and Lucia Pinochet Hiriart, told press that the money in Pinochet's Riggs accounts came entirely from legitimate sources including donations for their father's legal expenses during his arrest in London. Attorney Carmen Hertz called such explanations "pathetic", pointing out that even if they were donations, they should have been reported for tax purposes. A minister from Pinochet's own government, Mónica Madariaga, told press that "no one" could have accumulated that kind of wealth as a public official.
Edmundo Perez Yoma, Defense Minister under Chilean President Eduardo Frei, agreed: "With a General's salary you cannot [accumulate $50-$100 million dollars]. Perez Yoma added, "Everyone in some way thought that desite the defects of the Pinochet government, it had been a clean and uncorrupt goernment... that perception has ended."
Pinochet's family may also be subject to scrutiny as part of the current investigations. According to attorney Alfonso Insunza, "At some point, the courts will have to take testimony from the family." One Socialist Party Congressman recently called for an investigation of a foundation headed up by Pinochet's wife Lucia.
Although some retired Generals have disparaged suggestions that Pinochet obtained these funds illicitly, the commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army, Juan Emilio Cheyre, announced last week that the institution will support the legal investigations into Pinochet's accounts, emphasizing that the Army itself no longer has accounts with Riggs Bank.
Shortly after the US Senate Comission report was made public, Chilean parliamentarians from both left and right wing parties presented proposals to establish a Parliamentary investigative commission to look into the matter. An initial vote in the Chamber of Deputies failed to achieve the necessary unanimous vote, however, and discussions about such a commission continue.
According to Chilean press reports, some right-wing parties are seeking to distance themselves from Pinochet in this matter. In a television program, the president of the right-wing UDI party, Hernan Larraín explained, "Here there is no one above the law. The fact that he was Pinochet doesn't exempt him from justice."
For more information, see:
Miami Herald Bank Transactions Miami Herald, 15 July 2004
Chile May Probe Pinochet's Possible Secret Accounts Reuters 15 July 2004
Larry Rohter Pinochet Continues to Haunt Chile's Civilian Government New York Times, 18 July 2004
Jen Ross In Chile Hope Reborn In Chile, Hope Is Reborn in 30-Year Quest for Justice Washington Post, 18 July 2004
Pérez Yoma: Pinochet no pudo acumular una fortuna sólo con el sueldo de general, La Tercera, 19 July 2004
Larraín no pone las manos al fuego por Pinochet, UPI, 19 July 2004
Bush Says Riggs. Pinochet Links Face Probe, AP, 19 July 2004
Lawyer seeks Pinochet fraud trial BBC, 20 July 2004
Louise Egan Pinochet Victims Make Case for Financial Crimes Reuters, 20 July 2004
President on Pinochet: No one above the law, Millions in accounts questioned CNN.com, 20 July 2004
Timothy O'Brien Bush Promises Full Inquiry into Bank Ties to Dictator New York Times, 20 July 2004
Following the trail of Pinochet's cash Miami Herald, 21 July 2004
CDE sospecha de lavado de dinero en cuentas de Pinochet El Mostrador, 21 July 2004
Judge to probe Pinochet finances BBC, 21 July 2004
Earlier this month, the Santiago Court of Appeals released the text of their May 28, 2004 decision to strip former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution for a case involving Operation Condor. For background on that decision, see Pinochet Watch 55. The full text of the Appeals Court decision is available online at: www.derechos.org/nizkor/chile/doc/desafpin8.html
Pinochet's lawyers have appealed the ruling to the Chilean Supreme Court. The recent scandal over Pinochet's secret bank accounts have led some to believe that there is an greater chance that the Supreme Court might uphold the Appeals Court decision to strip Pinochet of his immunity. In an article entitled "A Brilliant Demented Person", Chilean journalists Jorge Escalante and Luis Narváez reported that the former dictator made at least 30 trips to the bank to carry out a number of different transactions even after being declared "demented" by the Chilean courts. The US Senate report shows that the former dictator met with representatives of Riggs Bank in Chile after the ruling that he was unfit for trial, as well. (full text from La Nación, July 25, 2005: www.lanacion.cl/p4_lanacion/site/artic/20040724/pags/20040724222641.html)
Human rights lawyer Nelson Caucoto told press that these recent developments make it likely that the Supreme Court will "confirm a change in Pinochet's mental condition and uphold the stripping of his immunity."
Below is a summary and analysis of the recent Appeals Court decision by Maxine Lowy of Memoria y Justicia. Ms. Lowy is also available for research assistance (see following story on Research Assistance in Chile).
Pinochet in the Clutches of the Condor
Details of the Decision to Strip Augusto Pinochet of Immunity in Operation Condor Case by Maxine Lowy for Memoria y Justicia, July 7, 2004
After ten hours, the bus from Buenos Aires arrived at the Argentine-Paraguayan border May 16, 1975. Jorge Fuentes Alarcon, Chilean courier for the MIR (Movement of the Revolutionary Left) was on the bus, accompanied by Argentine Amilcar Santucho of the ERP (Peoples Revolutionary Army). The two were emissaries of the Junta Coordinadora Revolucionaria (JCR) who had as objective to encourage scattered members of the left to regroup in a united Latin American alliance of the left. The mission that was meant to begin in Paraguay was abruptly aborted when the two entered Paraguayan territory. Paraguayan police arrested them and unleashed a nightmare of the extermination of leftist groups gathered in Buenos Aires. Fuentes and Santucho were taken to Asuncion where they were subjected to torture that led to the capture in Buenos Aires of many other Argentines, Chileans, and Uruguayans.
Documents declassified by the United States Department of State show that the Paraguayan intelligence chief informed FBI agent Robert Scherrer in Buenos Aires about the arrests. Scherrer, in turn, informed Gen. Ernesto Baeza, Santiago Intelligence Director and the Argentine intelligence chief. Within hours, Chilean and Argentine security agents were on their way to Asuncion, where three countries participated in the interrogation of Fuentes y Santucho. After three months of torment in Paraguay, Fuentes was transferred to Villa Grimaldi, the DINA's major torture and detention center in Santiago where he was last seen alive during the 4 months he was maintained in abysmal conditions.
The arrest of Fuentes and Santucho was a kind of dress rehearsal for military intelligence forces that formalized their pact under Operation Condor six months later. It corresponded to the model of Phase Two operations, consisting of actions of surveillance and capture of activists within the six Operation Condor member countries. Phase Three consisted of surveillance and assassinations outside Latin America, such as the assassination in September 1976 of former Foreign Relations Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC and the failed attempt to assassinate Bernardo Leighton in Rome.
Thousands of refugees, many of them protected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had fled to Argentina, the only country that was not yet under a military dictatorship. In fact 16 of the victims, on whose behalf the petition to deprive Augusto Pinochet of immunity was filed, were arrested and forcibly disappeared in Argentina, one (Julio del Transito Valladares) in Bolivia, one (Jorge Fuentes Alarcon) in Paraguay, and two (Hernan Soto and Ruiter Correa) in Chile through informants in Argentina.
The petition to deprive Pinochet of immunity specifies charges against him in the aggravated kidnapping, illicit association, and torture of Jorge Fuentes Alarcon, Ruiter Correa, Juan Hernandez Zaspe, Edgardo Enriquez, Luis Enrique Elgueta, Alexei Jaccard Siegler, Victor Oliva Troncoso, Jean Claudet Fernandez, Manuel Tamayo Martinez, Luis Munoz Velasquez, Ruiter Correa, Jacobo Stoulman, Matilde Pessa, Hernan Soto, Jose Luis de la Maza, Cristina Carreno, Jose Campos and Luis Quinchavi.
Depriving Pinochet of Immunity
Pinochet is no longer lifetime senator. Why, then, was it necessary to request removal of his immunity? When it became evident that the Santiago Court of Appeals would strip Pinochet of immunity to permit him to stand trial for the Caravan of Death case, the President and Congress forged an agreement. In record-time of 24 hours, in April 2000, the Chilean Congress approved Law 19662 conferring Pinochet, who was never elected immunity as former President of the Republic.
In 2000 the Santiago Court of Appeals stripped Pinochet of immunity as lifetime senator for his participation in crimes related to the Caravan of Death, ruling that the Supreme Court subsequently upheld. The removal of immunity was only valid for the Caravan of Death case. Later attempts to strip Pinochet of immunity in order to bring him to trial in the Carlos Prats case (December 2002) and the Calle Conferencia case (October 2003) focused on his health condition, when procedurally that issue pertains to a later judicial stage. The courts concluded that the former dictator suffered from incurable dementia when his own actions demonstrated that he enjoyed good health. Pleadings in the Operation Condor immunity hearings shifted the emphasis away from health to elements that proved probable cause and other procedural elements.
Evidence abounds of the involvement of Pinochet in Operation Condor, beginning with the conception of the repressive alliance. The official invitation Manuel Contreras sent to convene the November 1975 that formed Condor could not have been extended without the consent of the head of state. Clearly, Operation Condor was an instrument of state terrorism that carried out the policies of repression of member states.
Notably, in his arguments before the court, defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez acknowledged the existence of Operation Condor. However, he described it as a Southern Cone Interpol comparable to the current agreement among European nations to fight terrorism. A qualitative difference exists, however, between the covert, illegal pact among security forces and the public, legal alliance in Europe to protect citizens from precisely the kind of violence Operation Condor perpetrated on three continents.
On May 28, 2004 the Court of Appeals, in a solid 14-9 vote, accepted the petition to strip Augusto Pinochet of immunity, filed (December 22, 2003) before Investigative Judge Juan Guzman Tapia. Removal of immunity requires probable cause (sospecha fundada) that the individual in question participated in a crime. Plaintiff attorneys were Francisco Bravo, Eduardo Contreras, Juan Pavin and Juan Subercaseaux.
More than probable cause
On July 5, the Santiago Court of Appeals made public the text of its May ruling that approved the removal of immunity of Pinochet as former President of Chile due to his role in Operation Condor. To a great extent, the judges accepted the line of reasoning argued by the plaintiffs. The judges state that "more than probable cause" exists that Pinochet holds responsibility for the crimes that affected the 20 victims. Citing plaintiff lawyers nearly verbatim, the ruling describes the hierarchical relationship between Pinochet and the DINA, and by extension, Operation Condor. The judges also cite the words of former DINA chief Manuel Contreras: "Contreras has indicated that the DINA "had the mission to eradicate and eliminate Marxist extremism" and "I complied with the orders that I received directly from the President of the Republic, to whom I answered."
The ruling also clarifies certain procedural aspects that were at the heart of the immunity hearing. Contrary to what the defense contends the dismissal of Pinochet for health considerations in the Caravan of Death case is not applicable to the present case. Picking up on the plaintiffs' arguments, the judges stated that the issue of health does not pertain to the immunity hearing, but rather to the trial stage.
Below we present a review (based on interviews conducted in May and June 2004) of the line of reasoning argued by the plaintiffs, that was fundamental to the Appeals Court ruling.
Is Pinochet above the law?
Francisco Bravo, lawyer with the governmental Human Rights Program clarified for the judges that the comparison between Operation Condor and the present European alliance against terrorism has no basis in reality. Operation Condor was not merely a mechanism for gathering and exchanging information as former DINA Chief Manuel Contreras has stated. Bravo pointed out to the judges, "An institutional relation existed among intelligence services to repress, persecute, and eliminate opponents." Bravo also addressed the question that was central to the immunity hearing: What did Pinochet have to do with Operation Condor? He explained: "The DINA was a technical-military body for the objective of producing intelligence that formally answered to the Military Junta, but in reality answered only to Augusto Pinochet. If Contreras asserts that he carried out orders his superior gave him, you reach the logical conclusion that Condor was an idea of Augusto Pinochet, or at least had his authorization. Pinochet cannot sustain that he had no knowledge of its actions.
Bravo concluded his arguments before the court with these words: "The issue before us is not related to whether or not probable cause exists. The issue of depriving General Pinochet of immunity has to do with the principle of equality before the law. Pinochet be brought to trial in Chilean courts? Does the law confer every Chilean citizen the same rights as Pinochet? Is he above the law? Or is he still untouchable? That is the real issue."
Court rulings do not set precedent
Attorney Eduardo Contreras has participated in three of the four attempts to deprive Pinochet of immunity in order to bring him to trial. "The history of the Code of Civil Procedure has clearly established that court sentences in Chile do not establish precedent. This means they are valid only in the specific case in which the rulings were issued. Article three of the Code of Civil Procedure states this. Moreover, the court record in motions to dismiss establishes that no matter how high the court that dictates the sentence, the ruling does not constitute law. It is not obligatory for other courts."
"The only thing under discussion in the immunity hearing should be whether or not probable cause exists. It is not a penal proceeding, which means it is invalid to plead res judicata. The procedural code calls for removing immunity, indicting him, and only then if we determine that he is mad, can res judicata be invoked. But during the immunity hearing, which is not a trial, you cannot bring up an issue like health, because that relates to the merits of the case. The only thing we ask of the court is to authorize an indictment. There is more than probable cause in both Prats and Calle Conferencia cases, as well as Operation Condor."
"Therefore, the Court of Appeals declaration of dementia to deter removal of immunity is not grounded in law. That is not just my opinion. That is the minority opinion from the court in Prats and Calle Conferencia, which with brilliantly argued that consideration of the issue of madness at this stage is contrary to law.
Obstructers of justice are as guilty as criminals
Attorney Juan Subercaseaux has specialized in a meticulous analysis of the medical reports and the pseudo-medical rationale of the Supreme Court on the mental capacity of Pinochet. His role at the immunity hearing was to show that the medical reports on which British Home Secretary based his decision to free Pinochet failed to prove that he suffered from mental derangement that prevented him from standing trial. The medical exams, Subercaseaux indicated, were not practiced under the conditions demanded by the international medical community to substantiate a serious and rigorous diagnosis. One doctor who examined Pinochet did not speak Spanish, impeding properly administering the tests and understanding his response. Besides, shortly after the temporary dismissal of Pinochet in the Caravan of Death case, his numerous public activities and excursions showed him to be an individual who enjoyed full use of his mental faculties, with no indication of deficient behavior.
Subercaseaux concluded his presentation at the court in the tradition of the Biblical prophets who wielded words as an arm to shake complacency. With resonating voice, the attorney reminded the judges that "Those who obstruct or misuse justice share guilt with the criminals who commit a crime."
The judges accepted their proper competency
Juan Pavin may very well be one of the few people who was not surprised by the Court of Appeals consent to strip Pinochet of immunity and he is optimistic that the Supreme Court will uphold that decision. This attorney argued the procedural aspects that appear to have been key to the Court of Appeals ruling.
"The difference was that the Appeals Court judges for the first time accepted a procedural line of reasoning. I believe the difference between the former immunity hearings and the Operation Condor hearing was the over emphasis plaintiff attorneys had placed on the issue of health. This had the effect of overlooking procedural irregularities in which the judges themselves had incurred. Until we reach the trial stage, the court should only consider certain procedural questions. It is a procedural issue not an issue of the merits of the case.
"The Court of Appeals ruling has not been swayed, in my opinion, by the interview with Pinochet in the United States. Nor is it a matter of the judges changing their position. What has happened here is that the judges accepted their proper competency, their true purpose in the immunity hearing. And that purpose has absolutely nothing to do with Pinochet's health or incapacity."
"Thanks to the discovery of the Archives of Terror in Paraguay there is an abundance of information. In nearly all cases the responsibility of Pinochet is evident. What happened was that we procedurally hit the mark. If the Court agreed to deprive Pinochet of immunity, then it should do so in all the previous cases as well."
"I believe the Supreme Court will confirm the ruling because it is a procedural argument difficult to defeat. The Court of Appeals ruling did not surprise me. There is a precedent. Even the Caravan of Death case left the medical issue for later. I don't see why the Supreme Court would change its opinion."
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The thirtieth anniversary of the military coup stimulated renewed interest among Chileans and persons throughout the world to learn more about the story of military dictatorship and its continuing implications for Chile today. The Memoria y Justicia web site (www.memoriayjusticia.cl) responds to that concern by providing reliable information on the judicial history of human rights in Chile and developments on the legal front in the courts today.
Run often on a shoestring budget, the web site's development since launching three years ago has paralleled the availability of technical and economic resources. However, in the past 17 months the average readership has consistently hovered near 2000 visitors each month.
We have the impression that the Memoria y Justicia web site has yet to reach its full capability as a tool that advances the cause of justice. In the future we hope to: Incorporate a monthly news briefs section; Explore interactive mechanisms to make the site more responsive to current, such as opinion forums, support for international human rights conferences and campaigns; Update and maintain the Case Summary charts; Incorporate more images. We welcome your ideas and invite you, our readers, to participate.
Memoria y Justicia Services arises from the need for an economic base that will enable us to project the web site into the future. Now we offer to the Chilean and international academic, journalistic and law community the skills that are evident in the web site:
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By employing Memoria y Justicia Services, you will be providing much needed support to allow the web site project to flourish and expand. Services will be provided primarily by Memoria y Justicia editor, Maxine Lowy. Lowy is a journalist, researcher, and translator with 14 years of experience in Chile's human rights field.
Earlier this month, Chilean newspaper La Nación reported that Pinochet gave orders to dig up the bodies of executed political prisoners in order to make them disappear. According to a recent judicial investigation, many bodies were exhumed and burned. Below is an unauthorized translation of the La Nación report. For original Spanish story, go to: www.lanacion.cl/p4_lanacion/site/artic/20040715/pags/20040715211017.html
HOW BODIES OF PRISONERS WERE UNEARTHED AND BURNED IN REGIMENTS AS PART OF "OPERATION REMOVE TELEVISIONS"
La Nacón, 16 July 2004. by Jorge Escalante
Disappeared in Barracks from Hell
It was almost night in early 1979 when the Intelligence Subofficial received the category cryptogram in the Regiment Húsares de Angol marked A-1, indicating "maximum urgency". He flew to the machine to decipher and translate the text. The content made him run with the paper to the unit commander. The order came directly from the commander in chief of the Army, Augusto Pinochet, and it was decisive. Pinochet was ordering that all the bodies of the bodies of the executed political prisoners that were within the regiment's jurisdiction be dug up and made to disappear.
In the words of the Subofficial, that the Fifth Investigative Department and Judge Guzmán revealed in the past few weeks, Pinochet threatened in the document to "retire" any regiment commander if, after the "cleaning" order was given, bodies of the disappeared were still found in his jurisdiction.
The discovery in November 1978 of the bodies of 15 campesinos murdered in Lonquén had alarmed the regime. Throughout Chile, "Operation Remove Televisions" began. This sentence was used to cover up the job, according to those who have testified in the trial. The same order was received in all the regiments in those same days, although some arrived at the end of 1978. Thus the double crime was consummated: unearth the bodies of those murdered years earlier in order to make them disappear. It was an operation different from the way in which DINA disappeared people shortly after they were killed, largely by throwing them in the ocean. Although some of these exhumed bodies also appear as thrown into the water in the Armed Forces report issued in response to the Human Rights Roundtable (Mesa de Diálogo).
But the other Commander of Húsares de Angol realized that the 18 campesinos that were killed in October 1973 in the zone that is currently the Malleco National Reserve, near the Termas de Pemehue, de Collipulli towards the mountains in the border between the Eighth and Ninth region, weren't within his jurisdiction. This action had been committed by military officers of the Infantry Regiment of the Mountain # 17 Los Angeles and the police of Mulchén. He spoke with Los Angeles, and everything was sent to them.
The next day, three subofficials from Intelligence Department II of the III Division of the Army, based in Concepción, arrived to this Regiment and, together with another team from the barracks made up of officers and subofficers (8 people in total), left for the Termas de Pemehue zone in two vehicles. They carried with them pick axes, shovels, and some black bags. They knew that, upon arriving to the zone, they should ask a campesino related to a military officer the exact place to look. Excavating no more than 50 centimeters from El Amargo and Pemehue, and according to witnesses who were present during the exhumation, they removed at least 12 bodies that were put in the bags. Some were partially nude and others were clothed. They also found identification documents. The Rettig Report confirmed that on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of October 1973, 28 campesinos were detained and killed, among them, six brothers with the last name Albornoz González and three named Rubilar Gutiérrez.
Those who carried out the exhumation, officers and subofficers, were men trained at the Army Intelligence School and at the School of Americas in Panama.
As they sweated with the shovel and the pick, one of the subofficers from Concepción commented to another that at a course in Germany, he had learned to burn bodies without leaving a trace. "You have to prepare a big grill where you put the bodies. Underneath, you light a lot of firewood and you keep adding gas. You have to burn them until they turn into ashes, and then the wind blows them away," he said according to those who heard him. After the exhumation they returned to the Los Angeles Regiment.
In the Department II Intelligence barracks (there is one in each regiment and division), there was a brick oven with a chimney. One of the men that threw the bodies in the oven remembers that they fell "with their skulls and bones". This method of extermination, similar to that of the Nazis in the concentration camps, was unknown in Chile until now under Pinochet.
Last week, Judge Guzmán and his investigative team went to the zone and found bone fragments left over from the exhumation.
La Nación knows the names of those who carried this out, but is not releasing them. Not in order to protect them 25 years later, but so as not to negatively affect Judge Guzman's investigation. [Guzman], together with a team of experts from the Fifth [Investigative] Department [of the Police] are investigating this evidence in connection with the murders carried out by the Caravan of Death in Calama. There, on October 19, 1973, 26 political prisoners were massacred.
"Operation Remove Televisions" reached Calama in 1979, as well, under the command of the Chief of the First Intelligence Division of the Army of Antofagasta, with a team of "exhumers". According to the previously mentioned report that the Armed Forces issued in response to the Human Rights Roundtable (Mesa de Diálogo), the bones of these people were thrown in the ocean.
Drum Burning in Linares
The Pinochet document was also received in the Artillery School in Linares. There they carried out the same order. In Linares, the director of the school, Lieutenant Colonel Patricio Gualda Tiffani, ordered the battery commander, Captain Mario Gianotti Hidalgo, to pull together a team of exhumers. Gualda maintains in the "Linares" trial, overseen by Judge Alejandro Solís, that he received the order from the subdirector Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Gaete Villaseñor. Gianotti chose two officers and two subofficers. One of them was Lieutenant Hernán Véjar Sinning.
Three other Intelligence sub officials joined the team that traveled again from the Third Division of the Army. They looked through the regiment, with shovel and pick, and in different places, naked bodies appeared. They put them in plastic bags and set them aside, because they had to keep looking in Constitución. In civilian clothes and in two vehicles, the group traveled to the coast. Those from Concepción knew about a clandestine burial in a cave at the mouth of the Maule River. It wasn't difficult to find the grave, where they removed three bodies. "We knew immediately by the skulls that there were three people," declared Gianotti.
Once the mission was complete, the caravan came back to the Artillery School. They took out two bodies, looked for a metal drum, added gas to the five bodies, and burned them.
The officials, today retired, are being prosecuted for covering up kidnapping and illicit association. The case was filed by Anselmo Cancino Sepúlveda, son of a disappeared person. The legal action is overseen by lawyers Hugo Gutiérrez and Hiram Villagra. La Nación is publishing these names because they are included in the complaint.
In 1999, Retired Captain Pedro Rodríguez Bustos testified before the Fifth [Investigative] Department and Judge Guzmán that in 1979 he saw the order from Pinochet to dig up the bodies, but then interested authorities denied this and other of his statements, starting a rumor that this was an "Intelligence Operation". Rodríguez reaffirmed his declarations in the last few days, confirming that the order came from "The Commander in Chief of the Army and was sent out to all the garrisons and divisions."