[QODLink]
Americas

Chile shuts luxury jail for Pinochet henchmen

Court documents show Penitenciario Cordillera has tennis courts, a pool, barbecues and private bathrooms.

Last Modified: 27 Sep 2013 02:22
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A prison barbecue for inmates who served under General Pinochet prompted protests [Reuters]

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera has ordered shut a luxury prison where 10 former agents of military dictator Augusto Pinochet have been serving sentences for crimes against humanity.

The 10 inmates, including Manuel Contreras, former chief of Pinochet's notorious DINA secret police, will be moved from the Penitenciario Cordillera in Santiago to a jail where other former military officers and collaborators of the dictatorship are being held.

"Taking into account three principles: first, equality under the law; second, the safety of the inmates and third, the normal and efficient running of the prison police force, I've taken the decision to close the Penitenciario Cordillera jail," said Pinera, a conservative, said at the presidential palace in Santiago.

The move came after Chilean media revealed that those at Penitenciario Cordillera, which was built in 2004, enjoyed preferential conditions and benefits compared to inmates in other prisons in the South American country.

Right political conditions 

Protests against the luxury prison have turned violent in the past [AFP]

The inmates live in five cabins, each equipped with a private bathroom, can play tennis for two hours a day and are in the process of getting a personal trainer, public documents from a recent court-ordered visit to the jail show. There is even a pool and barbecues.

Contreras revealed the luxury conditions in an interview inside Cordillera ahead of the 40th anniversary of the military coup.

Contreras, who is serving combined sentences of more than 100 years for kidnappings and murders, mocked prison guards, saying they were only there "to hold his cane", and he claimed that all of the thousands of disappeared during the dictatorship were armed leftists killed in gunfights.

Under Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship, over 3,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared, while another 28,000 were tortured, including ex-President Michelle Bachelet, who is the front-runner to win the presidency later this year.

Referring to the decision to close the prison, Bachelet said the country now had the political conditions to adopt this measure, something that would have been nearly impossible only a few years ago when Pinochet was alive. He died in 2006.

The privileged conditions at Cordillera have been criticised ever since it was built in 2004.

But the public outcry reached a high point on Wednesday when supporters of former Brigadier Miguel Krassnoff tried to organise a BBQ in his honour at Cordillera, where he is serving a 144-year sentence.

An event honoring Krassnoff in 2011 ended in clashes between his supporters and human rights activists. 

 

414

Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.