Ex-soldiers convicted of killing Chilean singer Victor Jara

Ex-soldiers convicted of killing Chilean singer Victor Jara

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Eight retired soldiers have been sentenced to 18 years in prison for one of the most emblematic murders of Chile's military dictatorship: the murder of folk singer Victor Jara and a government official.

The office of the court system announced the ruling on Tuesday, and it said a ninth veteran was sentenced to five years for cover-up.

Jara, a popular singer and university professor, was a fervent supporter of Marxist President Salvador Allende and he was seized only hours after Gen. Augusto Pinochet assaulted the presidential palace and overthrew Allende on Sept. 11, 1973.

Jara was taken to a stadium, where thousands of prisoners were being held. His hands and head were beaten and he was shot with at least 44 bullets as a warning to those who challenged Pinochet's authority.

Allende's prisons chief Littre Quiroga also was tortured and killed at the stadium, apparently because of alleged mistreatment of an officer who had earlier attempted a coup.

Jara and Quiroga were among the earliest of more than 3,000 suspected leftists slain during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

The bodies of the two men were dumped on a dusty street near the Metropolitan Cemetery and taken to the morgue, where someone recognized Jara and secretly informed his wife, the British dancer Joan Turner Jara.

The family managed to have his body exhumed for an autopsy in 2009.

Judge Miguel Vasquez imposed the sentences on Hugo Sanchez Marmonti, Raul Jofre Gonzalez, Edwin Dimter Bianchi, Nelson Haase Mazzei, Ernesto Bethke Wulf, Juan Jara Quintana, Hernan Chacon Soto and Patricio Vásquez Donoso to 15 years for the killings and three more for kidnapping them.

Rolando Melo Silva was sentenced to five years. The sentences can be appealed.

Chilean officials are seeking the extradition of a tenth former soldier, retired Lt. Pedro Barrientos, who emigrated to Florida and in 2016 lost a civil damages suit filed on behalf of Jara's family. He has denied any role in the deaths.

The stadium where Jara was killed has since been renamed in his honor.

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