Former soldiers get 25 years in prison for murder of Victor Jara

Seven retired military officers were convicted in Chile for the singer-songwriter’s kidnapping and execution in the early days of the Pinochet dictatorship

The Chilean Supreme Court convicted 7 retired military officers on Monday for the kidnapping and killing of famous singer-songwriter Victor Jara. Jara was taken a few days after the September 11, 1973, military coup that led to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Former Army officers Raúl Jofré, Edwin Dimter, Nelson Haase, Ernesto Bethke, Juan Jara and Hernán Chacón were each handed a 15-year-sentence for the killings of Jara and former Head of Prisons, Littré Quiroga Carvajal, as well as another 10-year sentence for the two kidnappings. Rolando Melo also received an eight-year sentence for concealment. The defendants, who are between 73 and 85 years old, were all free before the ruling.  

Retired lieutenant Pedro Barrientos, who was identified as one of Jara’s murderers, lost his US citizenship for his involvement in the killing of the popular singer last month. 

The Court dismissed “the defenses’ appeal requests in both form and content,” according to La Tercera newspaper.  

The ruling also determined the State must pay 80 million Chilean pesos (US$93,600) to Jara’s siblings as a form of reparation. The singer’s widow and children were each granted 150 million pesos (US$175,500).

News of the ruling coincided with the inauguration of the ¿Por la vida? Siempre! (In favor of life? Always!) photo exhibit at the Santiago de Chile University (Uasch, in Spanish) headed by Chilean President Gabriel Boric. The opening was originally scheduled to take place on the day of the coup, with then-President Salvador Allende in attendance and Jara to co-host the event.

The coup postponed the inauguration for 50 years. 

A Communist Party militant, Jara was also a theater director, professor, and writer. He was kidnapped, tortured and shot 44 times at the Universidad Técnica del Estado — a state university where he taught a class at the time — shortly after the coup.

Littré Quiroga Carvajal, the second victim, was detained on September 11, 1973, after he voluntarily presented himself at the Armed Regiment #2. Two days later, he was transferred to the National Stadium. He was 33 years old, and his body was discovered near the Metropolitan Cemetery together with four other people, including Jara. 

During the Pinochet dictatorship, more than 28,000 people were tortured, 3,227 were murdered, and some 200,000 were forced into exile, according to official numbers. 

With information from Télam


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