SANTIAGO – Two retired air force officers were charged on Tuesday for the death nearly four decades ago of the father of former President Michelle Bachelet, who governed Chile from 2006-2010.
Judge Mario Carroza handed down the indictments against Cols. Edgar Ceballos Jones and Ramon Caceres Jorquera weeks after the medical examiner’s office concluded that air force Gen. Alberto Bachelet died as a result of torture.
Alberto Bachelet was among a number of senior officers, known as “constitutionalists,” who opposed the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that toppled President Salvador Allende, a putsch that ushered in 17 years of brutal military rule.
The junta led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet ordered Gen. Bachelet and the other constitutionalists confined at a prison in Santiago, from where they were taken – sometimes on a daily basis – to the Air Force Academy for torture sessions under the direction of Ceballos and Caceres.
Gen. Bachelet’s last visit to the Air Force Academy was on March 11, 1974, and he returned to the prison in bad shape.
“The following day ... as the result of an acute cardiac dilation, the victim died on the premises of the Public Prison without receiving the care he needed given the difficulty of his condition and the lack of means to assist him,” medical examiners said.
“All the interrogations to which Gen. Bachelet was subjected would have aggravated his heart condition, which was probably the cause of death,” Judge Carroza said in the indictment.
More retired military officers may be charged in the coming days, he told the media.
The general’s widow, Angela Jeria, and daughter, former President Bachelet, filed a criminal complaint on Tuesday against the two colonels indicted by Carroza and any other armed forces members found to have had a role in Alberto Bachelet’s death.
Michelle Bachelet, then a medical student, and her mother were also arrested and tortured by Pinochet’s secret police, but officers who had been friends of Gen. Bachelet were eventually able to secure their release, on condition that the two women went into exile.
The Pinochet regime killed some 3,200 people, including nearly 1,200 whose bodies were never found, and tortured around 32,000 others. EFE