Chilean Ex-General Sentenced To 15 Years

By: AP
By: AP

SANTIAGO, Chile - A former chief of Chile's secret police force was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday for the disappearance of a dissident during the dictatorship of the late Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Retired Gen. Manuel Contreras, 78, who commanded Pinochet's feared secret police, was found guilty of the disappearance of Marcelo Salinas, who was never heard from after his 1974 arrest and is presumed dead.

Chile has pushed in recent years to prosecute human rights violations from the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Pinochet, who died in 2006 at the age of 91. Thursday's was the 100th conviction stemming from abuses during the era, the court said.

Contreras already is behind bars for convictions in other cases, including the 1976 bombing that killed prominent Pinochet foe Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. He has already accumulated prison terms totaling 57 years, and is fighting cases that could add another 197.

Judge Alejandro Solis also sentenced four other officers to prison on Thursday, including Contreras' deputy commander in the secret police and former Gen. Pedro Espinoza.

State security forces killed about 3,200 people for political reasons and "disappeared" more than 1,000 others during the Pinochet era, according to an official report after civilian rule was restored in 1990.

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