Published October 30, 2012
MADRID – Six Chileans and an American accused of the 1976 kidnapping, torture and murder of a Spanish U.N. official in Chile were indicted Tuesday by a Spanish judge who issued international arrest warrants for them to be tried in Spain.
Judge Pablo Ruz charged the seven with genocide linked to the former regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and with the killing of Carmelo Soria, the Spanish diplomat who was working for the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America. The suspects were never tried for murder or torture in Chile because they were covered by an amnesty law put in place two years after Soria's murder.
All worked for DINA, Pinochet's secret police agency, and targeted Soria because they were convinced he had been helping Communists in Chile, the judge said in the National Court indictment released Thursday.
The American named is Michael Townley, who served five years in a U.S. prison for complicity in the 1976 assassination in Washington of former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his assistant. Townley was in the U.S. Witness Protection Program as recently as 2010.
The Chileans indicted included former DINA director Manuel Contreras, who is imprisoned in Chile for his role during the Pinochet dictatorship.
Soria was stopped as he drove a U.N.-issued car and taken to a house in the Chilean capital, Santiago, owned by Townley where the Spaniard was severely beaten and strangled to death, the indictment said.
Then his killers injected Chilean Pisco brandy into Soria's body, put him inside the car he was driving when stopped and pushed it into a canal to make it appear he had been the victim of a drunken driving accident, the indictment said.
The seven were also charged with genocide because the judge determined that the killing of Soria and other crimes he did not detail in the indictment were part of the systemic repression imposed by Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.
Several of the Chileans were convicted in 1993 of covering up the killing of Soria. While Contreras is jailed for other crimes linked to Pinochet, the remaining five have served their sentences and are living in freedom in Chile, said Alfonso Insunza, a Chilean lawyer representing Soria's family.
Ruz issued requests to Chile and the U.S. for the extradition of the suspects. Spain's National Court could not provide information on whether the suspects have lawyers.