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Chile court sentences Pinochet-era police chief to 15 years in prison for murder

A Chilean judge sentenced General Manuel Contreras, former chief of police under the reign of Augusto Pinochet [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], to 15 years in prison on Thursday for murdering an opposition activist. Left-wing activist Ramon Martinez was allegedly tortured and shot [BBC report] while in police custody in 1975. Martinez was a member of the Revolutionary Leftist Movement and was shot on the way to a detention center after he resisted arrest. Contreras was sentenced along with various other police officers who were involved in Martinez's murder, including Brig Miguel Krasnoff Marchenko, Col Marcelo Moren Brito, Col Fernando Lauriani Maturana and Col Mario Jahn Barrera. Each of the officers faces a 15-year sentence, which is to be served in addition to sentences that the officers face for other crimes. Contreras is currently in prison serving various sentences adding up to more than 200 years for convictions of murder and kidnapping.

Chile has been urged to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for the killing and disappearances of individuals during Pinochet's reign. Last month a panel of UN human rights experts urged Chile to make sure that people who have been convicted of enforced disappearances [JURIST report] serve their sentences. In July Chile arrested and charged [JURIST report] two retired air force colonels for their roles in the 1974 death of an air force brigadier general who was also the father of Chile's first female president. In December 2010 a French court convicted [JURIST report] 13 former Chilean officials over the disappearance of four French citizens during Pinochet's regime. The defendants, primarily high-ranking military officers, were tried in absentia, and one defendant was acquitted.

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