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Chile court finds 'Caravan of Death' perpetrators guilty of murder

A Chilean judge found eight former members of the military guilty of murder on Monday for their roles in killings perpetrated during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile]. The men were members of the "Caravan of Death," a military operation involved [BBC report] in the suppression of political opponents during the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power. The Caravan of Death [BBC backgrounder] was responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 people between September and October of 1973. The group travelled to at least 16 towns during that time, though this conviction only relates to killings that took place in the city of Antofagasta. The accused have been sentenced to between three to 15 years in prison, though their sentence may still be subject to appeal.

Three other high-profile Pinchot-era military officers were indicted [JURIST report] for related killings in 2009, including General Gonzalo Santelices. In 2008 the Chile Supreme Court sentenced [JURIST report] five other military officers to terms ranging from four to six years in prison for their roles in the Caravan killings. In 2006 Pinochet himself was indicted [JURIST report] for Caravan of Death killings of the bodyguards of his former political opponent, President Salvador Allende. Pinochet died [JURIST report] later that year without ever having faced trial, but not before publicly assuming [JURIST report] full political responsibility for the alleged crimes.

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