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Chile sentences 33 former spies over Pinochet-era killings

By Andrew V. Pestano
Chile sentences 33 former spies over Pinochet-era killings
Relatives of military ruler Augusto Pinochet's former agents, who are convicted of crimes against humanity, carry banners to denounce alleged violations of human rights as they demonstrate outside of the Courts of Justice in Santiago on March 1. On Tuesday, Chile's Supreme Court sentenced 33 former agents -- some whom are already imprisoned -- from three years to 15 years for the kidnapping and killing of five political activists in 1987. Photo by Mario Ruiz/EPA

March 23 (UPI) -- Chile's Supreme Court sentenced 33 former National Intelligence Agency agents under military ruler Augusto Pinochet for the kidnapping and killing of five political activists in 1987.

Álvaro Corbalán, former chief operating officer for the National Intelligence Agency, or CNI, received a 15-year sentence for the kidnappings of Alejandro Pinochet Arenas, Manuel Sepúlveda, Julio Muñoz, Julián Peña and Gonzalo Fuenzalida in September 1987.

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The court handed down sentences between three years and 15 years for the abduction and disappearance of the members of the Chilean Communist Party's military arm, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriot Front. Authorities said the men were taken as revenge following the abduction of an army colonel by left-wing guerrillas. The army colonel, Carlos Carreño, was later released.

Former CNI Director Gen. Hugo Salas Wenzel also received a 15-year sentence. Corbalán and Wenzel are already serving sentences for human rights abuses. Twenty-one other officials received 10-year sentences.

The Supreme Court also ruled each family of the victims will receive about $575,000 from the government. The Supreme Court said the victims were kidnapped, drugged and dumped into the Pacific Ocean. The five men, whose bodies were never recovered, are believed to be the last people kidnapped and disappeared under Pinochet's rule from 1973 until 1990.

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Pinochet stepped down in 1990 after a failed vote in which he asked Chileans if they wanted him to lead for another eight years. He died at the age of 91 from heart complications in December 2006.

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