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Colonia Dignidad founder sentenced for child torture

Religion News Blog, Amsterdam, Netherlands
July 12, 2008 News Summary
www.religionnewsblog.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Saturday July 12, 2008

Commune head sentenced for child torture

Paul Schaefer, the founder of the notorious former German religious commune Colonia Dignidad in Chile, has been sentenced to three years and a day in prison for torturing children.

The sentencing is the latest in a series of cases that have condemned Schaefer to at least 30 years in Jail in 25 cases of sexual abuse of minors and violations of legislation over the possession of firearms.

The victims in the current case were eight children who were given psychotropic medication and electroshock therapy from 1970 to 1980 in the settlement hospital, the court said in Santiago.

Moreover, the children were separated from their parents and prevented from developing a normal sexuality through the use of physical violence, the court added.

A former corporal in Adolf Hitler’s army, Schaefer started the commune in southeastern Chile with other German emigrants. While preaching rigid morality, he sexually abused children and teenagers at the sealed-off complex, authorities have said.

Schaefer, 86, also faces charges of human rights abuses.

Prosecutors allege that the dreaded secret police of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990, killed and tortured political opponents at Colonia Dignidad and that Schaefer took part.

In the 1950s, Schaefer was under investigation by German authorities over an alleged sexual abuse of German minors. In the early 1960s he convinced hundreds of Germans to emigrate to Chile, founding his commune near Parral in southern Chile.

- Source: Commune head sentenced for child torture, AAP, via The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, July 12, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

After an investigation that spanned eight years, in November, 2004, Paul Schaefer — a fugutive since 1996 — was sentenced in absentia on charges of child abuse. The cult leader was captured in Argentinia in March, 2005.

After standing trial he was convicted in May, 2006, of sexually abusing 25 children and sentenced to 20 years in jail. In August that same year he was sentenced to seven years in prison for arms possession.

Members of Schaefer’s cult thought he “was God on earth [...] who preached an unnamed religion that said harsh discipline would draw them closer to the supreme being.”

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