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Chile: 2 sentenced for torture of Bachelet’s dad

November 21, 2014

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Two retired Chilean military officers were sentenced to prison Friday for the torture death of the father of President Michelle Bachelet.

Judge Mario Carroza ordered Cols. Ramon Caceres Jorquera and Edgar Cevallos Jones to serve three years and two years, respectively, for the 1974 torture of Gen. Alberto Bachelet. The maximum possible sentence was five years.

Gen. Bachelet was imprisoned for treason during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet because he had opposed the coup that ousted socialist President Salvador Allende. The regime also arrested then-23-year-old Michelle and her mother, Angela Jeria. The women were tortured in a secret prison for two weeks before they fled into exile.

“The fact that the trial ended and the truth that we knew from the start is finally known gives me lots of tranquility,” Jeria told local TV after the judge’s decision. “At the same time, it gives me hope that justice will come for all of those who were held with my husband ... and everyone else who suffered torture and repression.”

Gen. Bachelet remained loyal to Allende, refusing to endorse the coup of Sept. 11, 1973, even after Allende committed suicide while making his last stand in the bombed-out presidential palace.

Court documents say officers held Gen. Bachelet at the Air Force War Academy, keeping him tied and blindfolded, withholding water and ordering him at gunpoint to remain motionless for hours. The stress aggravated the 50-year-old general’s heart problems, causing his death in March 1974.

The day before his death, he left a note to his wife saying he had been brutally “softened” by his interrogators.

Michelle Bachelet returned from exile in 1979. She became a doctor and rose through the ranks of the Socialist party. Chile transitioned to democracy in 1990. Bachelet was elected to her first term as president in 2006. She then ran the U.N.’s agency for women until she was elected president again last year.

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Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao

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