French try Chileans in disappearances

Dec. 8, 2010 at 9:53 AM
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PARIS, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A French court put 14 officers of the former Chilean military dictatorship on trial in absentia Wednesday for the disappearance of French citizens.

The four victims -- presumed to have been murdered -- were George Klein, an adviser to President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1973, a priest and two members of the Revolutionary Left Movement, Radio France Internationale reported.

Thirteen Chileans and one Argentine are charged in the Paris court with kidnapping, arbitrary detention, torture and barbarous acts. Relatives of the victims were present as the judge read out the names of the defendants, who were not in court.

Most were military officers during the Pinochet regime, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. The most prominent is Manuel Contreras, who led the DINA secret police. Pinochet himself was implicated in the disappearances but he died in 2006 without ever facing trial.

A verdict is expected Dec. 17.

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