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Chile journalists probing Pinochet abuses 'intimidated'

19 december 2012, 17:13
0
Pictures of victims of human rights abuses. ©REUTERS
Pictures of victims of human rights abuses. ©REUTERS
Chilean reporters investigating human rights violations under general Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship say their homes were broken into as part of a campaign of intimidation over their work, AFP reports.

Mauricio Weibel, a correspondent for German's DPA news agency, filed a lawsuit Tuesday after being the victim of a series of thefts in recent days.

One missing computer contained files with data on the role of the secret service under the 1973-1990 regime was stolen from his home.

Media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) said several other journalists had been targeted, and called for an internal police and intelligence service investigation.

"There is no longer any doubt about the aim of these thefts and acts of intimidation," RSF said in a statement.

Weibel said his troubles began when his car was stolen in the capital Santiago on Friday. It was found stripped down several hours later in another part of the city.

A day later, a man wearing a police uniform appeared at Weibel's former home and asked the porter for information on his family. When the man was asked to identify himself, he refused and left.

Later, someone broke into Weibel's home, stealing two computers.

Weibel and another journalist, Carlos Dorat, published a book in October entitled "Illegal association: the dictatorship's secret archives."

Dorat said he had also received mysterious phone calls from unknown individuals.

Weibel, who also writes for RSF, says the incidents amount to intimidation over the book and a new investigation he is currently pursuing. He is now under police protection.

RSF said three other journalists had also experienced similar acts of intimidation.

Javier Rebolledo, who authored an account of human rights violations by the secret police entitled "Dance of the Crows," had his computer hard drive stolen.

The computer of Cristobal Pena, who wrote a political thriller set during the dictatorship, was also stolen, while thieves stole freelance journalist Pascale Bonnefoy's computer, external hard drive and camera a month ago.

More than 3,000 people died or went missing as a result of political repression during the Pinochet dictatorship.

A total of 76 police officers had been convicted of abuses as of May, and 67 of them have been sent to jail, according to a tally by Diego Portales University.

Pinochet died in 2006, without ever having been put on trial.

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