Friday, January 31, 2014

The Calama massacres: five victims identified, including Carlos Berger, husband of human rights lawyer Carmen Hertz

Carlos Alfredo Escobedo Caris
Mario Arguelles Toro
Leopoldo Llanos, the visiting minister in charge of investigating human rights violations committed during Pinochet's dictatorship, confirmed the identification of five victims of the Caravan of Death. Servicio Medico Legal (SML) asserted that the identified remains correspond to the massacres committed in Calama on October 19, 1973.

Luis Alfonso Moreno Villaroel
The identification of the victims was confirmed during a meeting with relatives, in which the scientific evidence regarding the massacre was discussed. It was established that the victims were murdered prior to 1975 and their remains buried for over ten years, until the illegal exhumation Operacion Retiro de Televisores was carried out under direct orders from Pinochet, rendering any discovery of intact remains impossible. As with other previously identified victims, only fragments of bones were discovered due to heavy machinery being used to exhume the victims for permanent disappearance, either through burning in drums or else packaged and dropped into the ocean from helicopters. The order to exhume bodies from mass graves was given by Pinochet after the discovery of fifteen bodies in an abandoned furnace in Lonquen.

Hernan Elizardo Moreno Villaroel

The identities of the victims correspond to:

Carlos Alfredo Escobedo Caris, age 24, socialist militant. Detained on September 26, 1973. Incarcerated at the Calama Prison at the time of execution.

Hernan Elizardo Moreno Villaroel, age 29, socialist militant. Detained under house arrest from September 12 to October 12, 1973, later transferred to Calama Prison. No evidence of judicial process or condemnation exists, however it is rumoured that Moreno was sentenced to two years in prison.

Mario Arguelles Toro, age 34, socialist. Detained on September 26, 1973 and condemned to three years imprisonment on October 16, 1973. Murdered while awaiting transfer to incarceration.

Carlos Berger Guralnik
Luis Alfonso Moreno Villaroel, age 30, socialist militant. Detained on October 12, 1973 after presenting himself voluntarily to the military and incarcerated in Calama Prison. There is no indication of judicial process or condemnation pertaining to Moreno.

Carlos Berger Guralnik, age 30, husband of human rights lawyer Carmen Hertz. A journalist, lawyer and Communist Party militant, Berger was detained on September 11 1973 and condemned to 60 days in prison on September 29, 1973. Berger's execution occurred while serving his sentence.

Their remains were discovered in a mass grave on the road to San Pedro de Atacama, only 15km away from Calama. The Rettig Commission report established that the victims were brutally mutilated and massacred. The secret burial in a mass grave was carried out to avoid confrontation with the victims' relatives, who later defied the atrocities of the dictatorship and embarked upon a personal search of the Caravan of Death victims.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Santiago Court of Appeals seeks the extradition of Adriana Rivas Gonzales, former DINA agent and secretary to Manuel Contreras

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The Santiago Court of Appeals has announced its intention to seek the extradition of former DINA agent and secretary to Manuel Contreras, Adriana Rivas Gonzales. Rivas is implicated in the detention and disappearance of former Communist Party militant Victor Diaz Lopez, one of the many victims in DINA's targeting and extermination of militants during the clandestine operation known as Calle Conferencia. Victor Diaz was detained in Cuartel Simon Bolivar, tortured on the parilla, asphyxiated and later administered a cyanide injection by Gladys Calderon.

Rivas, who currently resides in Australia, defended DINA's torture practices as a "necessary tactic" to coerce leftist militants to reveal their plans and association with others in the struggle against the fascist dictatorship The former Brigada Lautaro agent stated that Pinochet was "a good president" and disassociated herself from the fate of Chile's desaparecidos, adding that the years spent working as a DINA agent were the best years of her youth.

At the age of 20, Rivas joined the Ministry of Defence, taking up a secretarial role. in 1974 she joined DINA after taking instruction in military intelligence and was incorporated in the infamous Brigada Lautaro - organised by Manuel Contreras to provide protection for influential officers within DINA. The brigade was later entrusted with clandestine operations relating to the detention, torture and extermination of MIR and Communist Party militants, operating secretly at Cuartel Simon Bolivar, also described as the place where no one got out alive. The existence of the extermination centre was revealed by Jorgelino Vergara Bravo, whose testimony as narrated to Chilean investigative author Javier Rebolledo included torture practices, the administration of cyanide injections prior to the disposal of bodies, the packaging and disappearance of bodies, mock executions, sarin gas experiments by Michael Townley which were witnessed by various DINA officials, looting, organ trafficking in coordination with Colonia Dignidad, and the degradation inflicted upon detainees as they begged to be murdered in order to avoid systematic and incessant torture.

Rivas has been living in Australia since 1978. Her return to Chile in 2006 to celebrate her niece's wedding resulted in her indictment by Chilean courts for her role in Calle Conferencia. Following her release on bail, Rivas was aided by a friend in absconding from Chile and returned to Australia via Argentina.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Former DINA agents to be interrogated about the murder of Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria

Minister Lamberto Cisternas from the Supreme Court has authorised the interrogation of two former DINA agents. Former torture instructor; also former mayor of Providencia Cristian Labbe,as well as Rosauro Martinez are being investigated by the Brigada Investigadora de Delitos contra los Derechos Humanos for their role in the murder of Spanish diplomat Camelo Soria.

labbé martinezLabbe has so far benefited from impunity, despite a multitude of testimonies placing him at the helm of torture instruction and administration at Rocas de Santo Domingo, Tejas Verdes, Venda Sexy, Villa Grimaldi and Londres 38. Labbe was also involved in the murder and disappearance of 15 peasants in Valdivia, as well as the targeting of MIR and Communist Party militants during Operacion Colombo.

Martinez has been accused of participating in the execution of MIR militants in 1981. Despite vehement denials of his involvement with DINA, official documents signed by Manuel Contreras indicate Martinez's admission to DINA on January 31, 1977.

Soria, a former Unidad Popular advisor was abducted by DINA agents in 1976. His corpse was discovered in Canal del Carmen in Santiago. Official statements had declared the cause of death a car accident, however it was established that Soria had been detained by DINA in Villa Naranja, also utilised by Michael Townley and Eugenio Berrios for the production of sarin gas.

The Tejas Verdes contingent have been thought to possess information regarding the murder of Soria. According to Chilean investigative author Javier Rebolledo, torture survivor Anatolio Zarate recognised Soria during a torture session in Tejas Verdes.  Apart from Labbe's role of torture instructor and torturer at Tejas Verdes, the former DINA agent was also at the helm of Brigada Mulchen together with General Eduardo Aldunate Hernan. The brigade was relatively unknown compared to other branches within the structure of DINA, and operated under direct orders from Augusto Pinochet, carrying out intelligence operations and participating in the extermination of leftist militants at Cuartel Simon Bolivar. Its role in the murder of Carmelo Soria was confirmed by the Chilean Court of Appeals in 1992.