BUENOS AIRES – A former Chilean army commander and his wife slain in Argentina on the orders of dictator August Pinochet were honored on Friday on the eve of the 43rd anniversary of their deaths.
The tribute to Gen. Carlos Prats and Sofia Cuthbert was organized by the Chilean Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Two of the couple’s children, Sofia and Cecilia, were present for the unveiling of a plaque in the capital’s Chile Square that commends their father “for fulfilling his military duties and defending republican traditions.”
Chile was represented by Ambassador Jose Antonio Viera Gallo and senior officials from the interior and defense ministries.
Argentine Judge Maria Servini de Cubria, who led the long-delayed investigation into the 1974 crime, was also in attendance.
“This tribute is very comforting for us. It’s very important and very moving,” Cecilia Prats told EFE.
Prats and Cuthbert died on Sept. 30, 1974, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo, when a bomb attached to the bottom of their car went off.
Gen. Prats was a “constitutionalist” whose refusal to countenance a coup against Socialist President Salvador Allende led to his ouster as Chile’s army chief in August 1973.
After the violent putsch led by Pinochet (1915-2006) on Sept. 11, 1973, Prats and his wife went into self-imposed exile in Argentina, but agents of Chile’s DINA secret police pursued them to Buenos Aires and killed them.
Cecilia Prats stressed the need to preserve for future generations her father’s “position of respect for the constitution.”
In 2000, Judge Servini de Cubria she sentenced former DINA agent Enrique Arancibia Clavel to life in prison as an accomplice to the murders, though he was released in 2007 and slain in Buenos Aires four years later.
Subsequently, a Chilean court handed down two life sentences to retired Gen. Manuel Contreras for the killings of Prats and his wife.
Contreras, who died in 2015, directed DINA during the early years of the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship.
Chilean Judge Santiago Alejandro Solis also imposed sentences ranging from 541 days to 20 years on six other military men – two of them generals – and two civilians for their role in the crime.