Friday, October 17, 2008
New Developments In Human Rights Front
Chile's highest court handed a six-year sentence to retired army Gen. Sergio Arellano, 88, for the deaths of five dissidents in 1973. The Oct. 15 ruling followed news that an ex-naval officer admitted that an activist priest died aboard the training sail ship Esmeralda after being beaten soon after the 1973 military coup. The death of Miguel Woodward has become a symbol of human rights abuses by the military. Last month, the navy brass met with relatives of Woodward and others who disappeared under navy custody. Navy chief Rodolfo Codina apologized to families, but relatives still demand an "institutional" apology. Nineteen former navy personnel have been charged in the Woodward case. The Esmeralda's second in command when Woodward died testified that medical staff tried frantically to save Woodward after it became apparent he had suffered internal injuries. Those were inflicted at a navy facility, and the priest was taken to the ship for medical care. The incident has sullied the image of the Esmeralda, a longtime source of pride for many Chileans.