Chile burn victim files criminal complaint against Pinochet soldiers
A woman who survived being set on fire by Chilean soldiers during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet filed a criminal complaint in the case Wednesday, nearly three decades after the disfiguring attack.
Carmen Gloria Quintana was 18 when she and another youth, 19-year-old Rodrigo Rojas, were seized at an anti-government protest by a military patrol in 1986.
A member of the patrol recently came forward to confess that Quintana and Rojas were beaten, doused with gasoline and set aflame by the soldiers, who left them for dead on the outskirts of Santiago.
Rojas died of his injuries four days later, while Quintana survived despite burns on 60 percent of her body.
“I file a suit today against all those who turn out to have been responsible for the murder of Rodrigo Rojas and my attempted murder,” said Quintana, whose face still bears scars from the attack.
She said her complaint is aimed at “the authors, accomplices and those who covered up” the attack, one of Chile’s most shocking human rights cases even by the standards of the Pinochet dictatorship, which has been blamed for the deaths or disappearance of more than 3,000 people.
“Here it has been proven that there was a machinery to lie,” said Quintana, who has called on the military to come forward with all the information it has.
Since Friday, Chilean prosecutors have arrested 12 former military officers and non-commissioned officers, accused as authors of the attacks or accomplices.
A previous investigation in 1990 resulted in the conviction of a single former officer for negligence, with the courts accepting the military’s claim that the youths were burned when a homemade bomb they were carrying exploded.
Rojas had recently returned to Chile from the United States, where he lived with his exiled mother.
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