Chile Wants Pinochet-era Killer in US Extradited


A Chilean judge said Wednesday he will request the extradition from the United States of an ex-army officer accused of the brutal murder of leftist folk singer Victor Jara in 1973.

The killing of the pacifist singer, just days after general Augusto Pinochet came to power in a coup, became became emblematic of the bloody dictatorship that left more than 3,000 people dead.

But until now, no one has ever been prosecuted for the crime.

On Friday, Judge Miguel Vazquez indicted eight ex-army officers -- two for murder and six as accomplices.

Now he is seeking to extradite one of them, Pedro Barrientos Nunez, who lives in the United States.

The formal request will serve "to accelerate the (arrest) order issued last Friday," Vazquez told reporters.

Barrientos, who lives in Florida, is the only of the eight suspects living outside Chile.

The judge also confirmed that as of Wednesday four of the suspects were taken into custody in a special military jail, and the remaining defendants will be detained in the coming days.

He said one of the suspects, Roberto Souper Onfray, accused of being an accomplice, is undergoing medical tests. According to local media, he is admitted to a psychiatric clinic.

The singer, whose lyrics spoke of love and social protest, became an icon of Latin American popular music with songs like "The Right to Live in Peace," "The Cigarette" and "I remember you Amanda."

Jara, married to British dancer Joan Turner, was also a member of Chile's Communist Party and a fervent supporter of the Popular Unity coalition that backed Marxist president Salvador Allende, who came to power by popular vote in 1970.

He was arrested the day after the September 11, 1973 coup that installed Pinochet as dictator.

His body was found days later, riddled with 44 machine gun bullets. He had been held, along with around 5,000 other political prisoners, in Santiago's biggest stadium, where he was interrogated, tortured and then killed. He was 40.

The case was revived in 2009, and Jara's body was exhumed, after a soldier who had been in the stadium after the coup admitted to the shooting -- though he later retracted his confession.

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