JUDGE INDICTS TOP DINA AGENTS FOR CARLOS PRATS MURDER

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Thu Feb 27 01:42:25 MST 2003


{We know, and have known since, that Pinochet was the author of Prat's
assassination.  But read btw the lines for more subterfuge... }

JUDGE INDICTS TOP DINA AGENTS FOR CARLOS PRATS MURDER

 Historic Decision Reached For 1974 Double Homicide 

 Acting judge Alejandro Solís indicted five former members of the
Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA) Tuesday morning for their
responsibility in the double homicide of Gen. Carlos Prats and his wife
Sofía Cuthbert, assassinated in a car-bomb explosion in Buenos Aires on
September 30, 1974. 

 The case has special significance in Chile because it links the
Pinochet-era DINA secret police to the murder of Prats, the Army
commander-in-chief who immediately preceded Pinochet and who had
dutifully served the government of President Salvador Allende. 

 Four of the five men were indicted for "qualified double homicide." 
These were retired general and DINA head Manuel Contreras Sépulveda,
retired Gen. Raúl Eduardo Iturriaga Neumann, ex-Brig. Gen. Pedro
Espinoza Bravo and civilian Jorge Enrique Iturriaga Neumann.  Retired
Brig. Gen. José Zara Holger will be tried as an accomplice.  Contreras
and Espinoza were also indicted for being the leaders of an illicit
criminal association, while the other three men were indicted for being
members of this group. 

 Only Jorge Iturriaga was sought for detention, as each of the other
four men are already serving sentences for other crimes.  Contreras and
Espinoza were both sentenced in 1993 for their participation in the
murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his U.S. citizen
assistant Ronnie Moffit, which took place in Washington DC in 1976. 

 Other suspects in the Prats case include the U.S. citizen and ex-DINA
agent Michael Townley, who has acknowledged triggering the bomb that
exploded the Prats car, his ex-wife Mariana Callejas, and civilian
Armando Fernández Larios, and "eventually other members of the DINA that
I hope will be identified to answer to the Chilean justice system," said
Hernán Quezada, lawyer for the Prats family. 

 The five indicted ex-DINA agents - who have also been indicted in
Argentina - will now face trial in the first court case in Chile to
investigate the murder of Gen. Prats.  The case was first opened in
Buenos Aires in 1989 by judge María Servini de Cubría, whose
investigations led to the only conviction in the Prats case, that of
former DINA member and retired General Eduardo Arancibia Clavel who was
sentenced to life imprisonment in Nov. 2000.  Last December, Servini
asked for the extradition of the five men now charged.  The Chilean
Supreme Court refused the request on the grounds that the men should be
tried in Chile and subsequently opened the case under the jurisdiction
of acting judge Alejandro Solís.  Servini sent a complete dossier on the
case to Solís, who began taking declarations from the accused on Feb.
19. 

 In order to proceed in the case, especially in further investigations
of Callejas, whom he has questioned, Solís will likely ask Argentine
judge Servini for the text of declarations made by Michael Townley in a
special interrogation with Servini in Washington D.C. in 2000.  Townley,
who was put in the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program for naming
his co-conspirators in the Letelier murder, testified in exchange for
immunity in Argentina and with the understanding that his statements
will be kept secret in the Argentine court. 

 Meanwhile, Contreras lawyer Juan Carlos Manns asked last week for the
extradition of Townley and claims to have documents proving that the
CIA, and not the DINA, was responsible for the Prats murder (ST, Feb.
25).  Townley is known to have contact with the CIA in the early 1970s,
although no collaboration with that agency has ever been proven. 

 One potential legal question as the case moves forward will be the role
of the Chilean Amnesty Law of 1978, which exculpates from criminal
responsibility all individuals who committed crimes between the military
coup in 1973 and March 10, 1978, when the Pinochet-declared state of
siege was lifted.  While sources close to the case consider it unlikely
that the law will be invoked, it will surely open a new legal debate
about the controversial decree. 

 President Ricardo Lagos said the decision to try the case here speaks
well of Chile "as a nation that is able to move forward in this
direction."  While reiterating that as president he will not comment on
judicial decisions, Lagos spoke confidently of the court's ability to
pursue the matter.  The president also noted his personal relationship
with the murdered general. 

 "We knew General Prats. I can say that my family considered ourselves
friends of their family and they honored us with their affection." 

 Gen.Carlos Prats was Commander of the Chilean Army under the government
of Salvador Allende until July 1973, when he was replaced by Pinochet. 
According to Espinoza, one of the accused ex-DINA agents who worked with
Townley, Pinochet considered Prats a dangerous man who was capable of
organizing a military uprising in the south of Chile given his standing
within the Army. 

 Source: El Mostrador, La Nación, Radio Cooperativa 
 By Eli Naduris-Weissman (chipreporter at chipsites.com)
http://www.chirongroup.com/splash/stimes/chiparticle.php3?story_id=1322

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