A Chilean court has ordered the state to pay $7.5m to 30 former political prisoners held on a remote island in Tierra del Fuego under the military govenment of General Augusto Pinochet.

The prisoners, including political leaders and government ministers, were jailed after Pinochet seized power in a 1973 coup against socialist President Salvador Allende.

They were held in crowded barracks on Dawson Island in sub-zero temperatures and subjected to forced labour from September 1973 to September 1974.

The barren, windswept island sits in the Magellan Strait in Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago at the southern tip of South American.

The Justice Ministry said the prisoners "suffered immeasurable moral injury" and were "detained illegally on an island at the edge of the world".

They were "mistreated and lived in a state of anxiety and uncertainty about their own fate," the ministry said in a statement.
 
The Santiago Court of Appeals upheld a decision by a lower court awarding the prisoners $7.5m as compensation.

An official commission has found that 3,225 people were killed under Pinochet, and that there were 37,000 cases of torture and illegal detention.

Source: Agencies