Human rights activists in Chile are protesting a Supreme Court decision to release former Judge Gamaliel Soto, three former military soldiers and a police officer involved in the torture and disappearance of 31-year-old Eduardo Alberto Gonzalez Galeno in 1973.
The demonstrators gathered in front of the court in Valparaiso holding pictures of people forcibly disappeared during the military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet, including Gonzalez Galeno, director of the Hospital of Cunco in Araucania, on September 14, 1973.
Soto had been sentenced to ten years for his involvement in ordering Gonzalez Galeno's kidnapping, but Chile's Second Chamber of the Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to grant him parole.
The three military soldiers, Jose Quintanilla Fernandez, Hernan Protillo Aranda and Felipe Gonzalez Astorga, as well as police officer Manuel Perez Santillan, all convicted of crimes against humanity, were also released as a result of an appeal to the country's highest court, according to Nodal.
Their release was welcomed by the group's legal defence, arguing that good behavior and the fact that they served half of their sentence were sufficient reason for their release.
Witnesses said Gonzalez Galeno was accused of being a member of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) during his captivity by the military dictatorship headed by military general Augusto Pinochet and, subsequently, beaten and disappeared.
Human rights lawyer Nelson Caucoto decried the court's decision to release the men, stating there was no justification to grant parole: "We must take into account that parole is justified only by people who have been rehabilitated.
"It does not make sense to grant people freedom to live alongside others if they have not recognized the gravity of their crimes, nor have shown repentance beyond the fulfillment of certain formalities."
Caucoto also said granting parole to people convicted of crimes against humanity, as in this case, violates the international agreements that Chile is a signatory to.