Australian court rules to extradite kidnap suspect to Chile

SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian judge ruled Thursday that a woman wanted in Chile on kidnapping charges dating to Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1970s can be extradited.

Magistrate Philip Stewart dismissed Adriana Rivas’ lawyers’ objections to her extradition on allegations that she kidnapped seven people in 1976 and 1977, including Communist Party leader Victor Diaz. The alleged victims have never been found.

The 67-year-old Rivas has 15 days to appeal the decision in the Federal Court.

She has been in custody since her arrest in Sydney in February last year on a Chilean Supreme Court extradition order. Several court attempts for provisional release during the extradition hearing have failed.

Chilean-born lawyer and advocate for Pinochet’s victims Adriana Navarro said Rivas’ case was the first of its kind and “extremely important.”

“We are happy that Australia is on the side of human rights and it respects human rights,” Navarro told reporters outside the Sydney court following the ruling.

Rivas was an assistant to Manuel Contreras, the head of the DINA secret police during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Her lawyers argued Rivas was not a DINA agent and her work was mundane. Her tasks included collecting laundry, making coffee and translating, they said.

Rivas denies ever meeting the alleged victims.

Rivas moved to Australia in 1978 and was detained in Chile during a visit to see family in 2006. She was released after some months on probation and fled to Australia in 2009.

She lived quietly in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs, working as a part-time nanny and cleaner until her arrest.

Australia and Chile have had an extradition treaty since 1993.

In 2014, Rivas told Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service that she was innocent of the charges, but defended the use of torture in Chile at the time as necessary.

“They had to break the people — it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile,” she said.