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News > Chile

11 Pinochet Ex-Military Convicted For Burning Protesters Alive

  • A man wears a mask in honor of Former Chilean President Salvador Allende and the disappeared persons of the Pinochet dictatorship.

    A man wears a mask in honor of Former Chilean President Salvador Allende and the disappeared persons of the Pinochet dictatorship. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 March 2019

Sixty-five percent of De Negri's body was burned and died after four days; Quintana survived the attack despite suffering excruciating burns to 62 percent of her body.

In a triumphant win for victims and survivors of the bloody Pinochet military dictatorship, the Chilean Justice system closes the "Caso Quemados" (Burnt Case) and sends 11 retired military personnel to prison for up to 10 years for burning two young protesters alive in 1986.

Chile: Pinochet-Era Army Chief Charged for 15 Deaths

Of the near dozen ex-soldiers, three were condemned to 10 years and one day in prison. The other eight will serve three years and one day for being accomplices in the murder of Rodrigo Andres Rojas de Negri, 19, and the attempt of murder of Carmen Gloria Quintana Arancibia, 17.

Quintana and De Negri were detained by three military squads on July 2, 1986, during a protest against Pinochet's bloody dictatorship for allegedly erecting barricades in the streets. The military personnel used extreme force and threatened them with their weapons during detainment.

Minister Mario Carroza arrived as part of an extraordinary visit for human rights violations before the Court of Appeals in Santiago. Carroza sentenced the retired militaries, stating that the use of brutal forces was unnecessary.  Neither detainee "represented a danger to their captors, nor was there the slightest possibility that they assumed any defensive reaction that implied evading their custody," he said.

Nevertheless "in this context of total tranquility," the criminal military personnel proceeded to employ further acts of violence. "State agents made the decision to spray their bodies and clothing with fuel and then, through the use of an additional element, in this case direct contact with a Molotov Cocktail, causing a fire to spread quickly towards the victims, who with their bodies and clothes covered in fuel, could not prevent their clothes from catching fire and the bodies burning," the judge stated in his ruling.

Sixty-five percent of De Negri's body was burned and within four days, the photographer was dead. Quintana survived the attack and lived on to become a university professor, despite suffering excruciating pain and burns to 62 percent of her body.

The criminal militaries decided jointly to transport the victims in military vehicles to a rural place in the Quilicura Comune.

"In that place and in a ditch (the soldiers) decided to abandon them to their destiny, in spite of the fragile condition of health in which (the pair) were, in this way denying them all medical aid, with the sole purpose of favoring the impunity of their acts."

According to Hector Salazar, the victims' attorney, this case was stretched out for as long as possible, because, at first, it was not adequately lead by the Military Justice system. These kinds of cases "were investigated and judged by the military justice system, and this was an instrument that the dictatorship used to falsify what had happened and try to find a justification that implied a very diminished tangible responsibility, based on the chief of the patrol," Salazar said.

He continued, "Here it is evident that the institutional concealment of the army to prevent justice and formally establish the truth in a trial. In the ruling that is issued now it is clearly evident in the document, that there is a total reconstruction of all the background and history as it was. This justice is delayed, but at least there is some advancement."

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