Monday, June 27, 2016

EE UU halla culpable del asesinato de Víctor Jara a un exmilitar chileno

La viuda del cantautor chileno Víctor Jara, Joan Jara y su hija Amanda celebran su victoria en Florida.

La viuda del cantautor chileno Víctor Jara, Joan Jara y su hija Amanda celebran su victoria en Florida. EFE



Un tribunal federal de Orlando, Estados Unidos, ha determinado este lunes que el exmilitar chileno Pedro Barrientos, nacionalizado estadounidense, es culpable de tortura y asesinato extrajudicial del artista. El exuniformado deberá pagar una compensación por daños y perjuicios de 28 millones de dólares para la familia, según ha determinado el jurado. 
El juicio civil comenzó con la demanda que interpuso la viuda, Joan Turner Jara, y las dos hijas de la pareja, Manuela Bunster y Amanda Jara. Fue presentada en 2013 por el Centro de Justicia y Responsabilidad (CJA), con sede en San Francisco y el juicio arrancó el pasado lunes 13 de junio. “Aquí empieza la justicia para todas las familias de Chile que esperan conocer el destino de sus seres queridos”, indicó Turner este lunes afuera de la corte federal en Orlando. 
Aunque hace tres años la justicia chilena identificó a Barrientos como autor material del homicidio, no se ha logrado su extradición para que enfrente a los tribunales locales. En 2013, el juez Miguel Vásquez determinó que el artista, uno de los símbolos del Gobierno socialista de Salvador Allende, murió el 16 de septiembre de 1973 a causa de “al menos, 44 impactos de bala”, según la autopsia. Las pesquisas judiciales indicaron que el hombre que apretó el gatillo fue Barrientos, que era un teniente del Ejército. En esa ocasión, otros siete oficiales en retiro fueron procesados por el asesinato cometido en el Estadio Chile de Santiago, uno de los mayores centros de detención y tortura al comienzo de la dictadura de Pinochet. 
Tanto la viuda del cantante como sus dos hijas prestaron testimonio en la corte a cargo del juez Roy Dalton. Luego de conocer la decisión del jurado, después de dos días de deliberaciones, Joan, Amanda y Manuela comenzaron a llorar de alegría y se abrazaron con sus representantes legales, informa EFE. Para su abogada Catherine Roberts, “el veredicto supone un mensaje no solo a otros perpetradores, sino también al Gobierno de Estados Unidos para que agilice la extradición a Chile de Barrientos”. 
Radicado desde la década de los noventa en la ciudad de Deltona, Florida, al menos hasta hace un par de años Barrientos se dedicaba a la compra y venta de coches. El exmilitar siempre ha negado su relación con el crimen y durante el juicio tampoco reconoció su culpabilidad. El exmilitar negó conocer en esa época al popular cantautor y aseguró que supo sobre él y los sucesos que llevaron a su muerte mucho tiempo después de ocurridos
El testimonio entregado a la justicia en 2009 por José Paredes, que a los 18 años presenció el asesinato mientras realizaba su servicio militar, fue crucial para la investigación en Chile y relaciona directamente a Barrientos con el crimen de Jara. “Lo tenían sentado, tenían unas camillas, esas que son de campaña del Ejército, ahí lo tenían y le daban, le daban y le daban (…) Y Barrientos le dispara… a quemarropa casi”, relató el antiguo recluta a los tribunales chilenos. Para el juez Vásquez, que investigó el caso en Chile, no hay ninguna duda: “Él le disparó a Víctor Jara”, declaró después de procesarlo como autor de homicidio calificado. 
Para la presidenta de la Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (AFDD), Lorena Pizarro, “el veredicto es el resultado de una lucha larga. No tiene que ver con la indemnización, sino con que hay un tribunal que dice que hay un responsable del crimen de Víctor Jara, a pesar de los tantos años de impunidad”. Entrevistada por el sitio web de T13, Pizarro indicó que “representa una lección al poder judicial chileno y al Estado de Chile en general”.
El País

Former Chilean military official found liable for killing of Victor Jara

Victor Jara was killed in 1973 in the opening days of the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet.


Florida jury on Monday found a former Chilean army officer liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, awarding $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.
The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez after a two-week civil trial in Orlando’s federal court could now also pave the way for his extradition to face criminal murder charges in Chile related to his conduct during a CIA-backed coup that led to Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year military dictatorship and the deaths of almost 3,100 people.
Accusers said Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, shot dead Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings while the socialist-leaning theatre director and university lecturer was among thousands of suspected communists and subversives detained in Santiago’s soccer stadium.
Barrientos, who fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage, was one of nine retired army officers indicted for murder in his homeland four years ago but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request by the Chilean government for his return.
Kathy Roberts, legal director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, the California-based human rights group that brought the civil action on behalf of Jara’s British-born widow, Joan Turner Jara, and daughters Amanda Turner Jara and Manuela Bunster, believes the Florida jury’s ruling could now increase the pressure on the DoJ.
“It’s a step on the path towards justice for our clients and for Victor but also for the many other families who lost someone at Chile Stadium so many years ago,” she said after the verdict.
“We presented evidence that started to shed light on what happened there, and we hope that process will continue in Chile and we hope that the United States will extradite Mr Barrientos to face justice in the country where he committed these crimes.”
Joan Jara Turner, 88, testified during the trial that her husband’s death in a stadium locker room had “cut my life in two”, and has previously spoken of the horror of having to identify his tortured and mutilated body in a morgue after he was dumped outside the stadium with 44 bullet wounds.
“[I’m] happy in a sense that what we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Victor, has today come true,” she said through tears on the steps if the Orlando courthouse.
“It’s the beginning of justice for all those people, those relatives in Chile who are waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, who have been for years and years, just like us, seeking justice [and] knowledge.
“It’s been a long journey. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. His songs continue to be sung today and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice.”
Daughter Amanda Turner Jara, who thanked lawyers from the CJA and pro bono counsel from New York legal firm Chadbourne & Parke, said it was crucial that Barrientos was extradited.
“He ran away. He’s been hiding here for so long, and it’s time he faces that now in Chile,” she said.
The jury of five women and one man deliberated for nine hours before determining that Barrientos, a Pinochet loyalist who commanded the Chilean army’s notorious Tejas Verde brigade, should pay $6m in compensatory damages and a further $22m in punitive damages. The jury found him liable on both counts of the civil indictment, for torture and extrajudicial killing.
The Jara family, however, are unlikely to see any payment. Barrientos’ lawyer Luis Calderon painted a picture during the trial of a poor retiree who lives in a modest two-bedroom house and drives around in a decade-old car, and who was forced to work as a cook at a fast-food restaurant for years just to make ends meet.
Barrientos, who remained impassive as the verdicts were read, did not comment afterwards but Calderon said he was disappointed. “We will explore all our options regarding an appeal,” he said.
Dixon Osburn, executive director of the CJA, told the Guardian that one of the biggest challenges was proving that Barrientos, who also worked for a time as a landscaper during almost three decades in the US, was the same violent army officer who beat, tortured and shot Jara.
“These cases are always difficult because a lot of time has passed and because of the silence that has encased this matter for so long,” he said. “Trying to break through that silence and lift the veil on what happened in those days was enormously difficult.
“One of the things the Jara family has been pursuing for 43 years is just the truth. Barrientos said in deposition he knew nothing of Chile Stadium, he knew nothing of Victor Jara, but we had conscript after conscript saying he was there and he was responsible for what took place.”
One of the conscripts, Jose Navarette Barra, said during the trial in video testimony from Chile that Barrientos boasted of what he had done. “He said many times that he killed Victor Jara,” Barra said. “He talked about killing a communist, and he didn’t want a communist in Chile.”
The ruling marks the latest victory in the CJA’s pursuit of overseas war criminalsand human rights abusers living in Florida. In August 2015, El Salvador’s former defence minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was extradited to El Salvador after a lengthy legal battle. Vides, an army general in the country during the bloody civil war in the 1980s, was accused of covering up a number of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.
The Guardian

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