Court upholds sentence for Pinochet's secret police chief

A Chilean appeals court upheld a life sentence for the head of the secret police under former dictator General Augusto Pinochet who was convicted of killing 12 suspected urban guerrillas in 1987.

Retired General Hugo Salas can still appeal against his sentence before the Supreme Court.

Sixteen of Salas’ subordinates in the Central Information Central, the feared security service of Pinochet’s 1973-90 rule, were also sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years.

All were convicted in the so-called Operation Albania, the killing of 12 suspected members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, a pro-Communist guerrilla group that fought Pinochet’s regime.

The government said at the time that the suspected guerillas had been killed in clashes with security agents, but a judicial investigation revealed they were assassinated in three separate incidents after being arrested.

Salas is the second head of Pinochet’s security services to be sentenced to jail.

His predecessor, General Manuel Contreras, served a seven-year term for the assassination in Washington of Orlando Letelier, a prominent Pinochet foe. In January he began serving 15 years for another political killing.

Pinochet, 90, is under house arrest on charges of the killing and disappearance of nine dissidents, in one of many attempts to try him for human rights abuses during his regime.

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