SANTIAGO DE CHILE – In a stunning decision by Chile’s Minister of Justice Juan Guzman, five Pinochet henchmen will be prosecuted for the 1976 kidnappings and murders of Chilean Communist Party leaders, known as the Conferencia Street case.

Judge Guzman informed Communist Party President Gladys Marin, along with human rights lawyer Eduardo Contreas, of the decision at a June 2 meeting. Marin had been among those who filed suit five years ago. Guzman met with the Communist leader for about 20 minutes.

“This is a great triumph of justice,” Marin told the press. “I can’t forget that in this very place, when we filed the first suit, many reporters told us that we were at best only ‘saluting the flag,’ and continued to think that. In life we never have to give up. If what we are fighting for is honorable, then it’s worth the fight.”

Marin said, “Now at least we know the names of those who seized, tortured and eliminated our compañeros and their families and we know that they will be prosecuted and punished.”

The Communist leader put the blame squarely on the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and onManuel Contreras who headed up Pinochet’s secret police (DINA), but also indicated the importance of prosecuting the five agents and knowing their names. Jose Lopez Tapia, who ran the Villa Grimaldi torture center, Miguel Krasnoff, German Barriga, Ricardo Lorens and Osvaldo Pincetti were all named in the report.

“Miguel Krasnoff and German Barriga ran the Caupolican Brigade, an operation formed by Manuel Contreras’ DINA to pursue and exterminate the leadership of the Communist Party,” Marin said. “One cannot forget to mention the compañeros who were held, tortured and eliminated by these criminals. They were Bernardo Araya, a metal worker and founder of the Workers Movement in Chile; his wife, Maria Olga Flores; Mario Zamorano, Uldarico Bonaire, Jaime Donato and Jorge Muñoz, Erice Escobar, Lenin Diaz, Eliana Espinoza and our dear compeñero Victor Diaz, vice general secretary of the Communist Party at that time.”

Marin appeared quite satisfied with the information presented by Guzman, stating that “this is the greatest, most honourable and most just ruling that has been made in these times of such political opportunism, shamelessness and vulgarity in relation to human rights.” Marin criticised the proposal presented by the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) that “tries to change the subject of human rights to issues of the market – believing that dignity, truth and justice can be put on the negotiating table.”

Marin stressed, “This is the way, we have to re-open all the files on each of the detained, missing, and executed. We have to push to the side shameful proposals, such as those of UDI, that are now being placed in the center of debate, as if it were defensible to get paid a few more pesos in exchange for closing the cases.”

Attorney Eduardo Contreras, who accompanied Marin to the meeting with the judge, said, “It is a sign of what an honest judge can do when he’s true. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the majority of the members of judiciary, but I believe that Judge Guzman has provided an example of ethics, morality and historic responsibility to the country.”

“Five years since the suit first got under way, the truth is finally beginning to come out about the Conferencia case,” Marin concluded.

This story is based on Patricia Auguilar’s Mundo
Posible News Agency story, translated by Paul Greene.