Category: Colonia Dignidad

Chilean cult leader gets 20-year sentence for abuse

SANTIAGO – The German leader of a former religious cult in Chile has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual abuse of 25 children, local media has reported. Paul Schaefer, 84, fled Chile in 1997 when authorities began investigating sex abuse accusations against him. He lived in hiding in Argentina until last year when he was discovered and sent to Chile to face trial. He had been convicted of the sex crimes in absentia, but was retried after he was brought back to Chile. Judge Hernan Gonzalez also ordered Schaefer to pay US$1.4 million($2.25 million) in reparation to

Former German cult in Chile apologizes for abuses

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) – Former members of a German cult based on a communal farm in southern Chile on Wednesday issued a public apology and asked for forgiveness for 40 years of child sex and human rights abuses. In a full-page letter published in a leading Chilean newspaper, former members of the Colonia Dignidad communal farm said their charismatic former leader Paul Schaefer dominated them in mind and body while he molested children. Schaefer is also accused of working with secret police to kidnap leftists during Chile’s 17-year dictatorship. “Since we have been liberated from the domination of Paul Schaefer

Chile colony leaders face charges

A Chilean judge has indicted 18 people linked to a former German colony in southern Chile over human rights abuses committed during military rule. Among them are two former commanders of the Chilean secret police, as well as Paul Schaefer, the colony’s founder. The judge says the security services used the sprawling property to hide kidnapped dissidents. Last year, the state took control of the enclave. Mr Schaefer is in jail facing separate child abuse charges. In January, Judge Jorge Zepeda inspected a suspected mass grave at the enclave, known as Colonia Dignidad. It is thought dozens of bodies were

Chile discovers secret grave on cult grounds

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan 3 (Reuters) – Chilean officials have discovered an old grave on the property of a secretive German cult where opponents to the nation’s 17-year dictatorship may have been buried after being tortured and killed. Chilean Judge Jorge Zepeda said on Tuesday the cult property, known as Colonia Dignidad and once run by the German citizen Paul Schaefer, was used as a center for torture and as a clandestine cementary during the rule of former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet ruled during an era in which an estimated 3,000 people died in political violence and some 28,000 people were

Mass grave found in Chile enclave

A Chilean judge is investigating the discovery of an unmarked grave in a German enclave in the south of Chile. Rights groups say the colony’s leaders helped with the repression of left-wing activists during military rule. It is thought dozens of bodies were buried at the enclave formerly known as Colonia Dignidad, but later moved. Last year, the state took control of the enclave. Its former head, Paul Schaefer, is in jail charged with child abuse and human rights violations. ‘Bodies exhumed’ Judge Jorge Zepeda is expected to inspect the unmarked grave on Tuesday. Experts working at the site say

German held over ‘Chile torture’

A German doctor is in custody after allegedly admitting she tortured a number of children at Colonia Dignidad, a secretive religious colony in Chile. Gisela Seewald, 75, is said to have told a judge that she gave them electroshock treatment and sedatives. She was ordered to do so by the group’s ex-leader, Paul Schaefer, who said they were possessed, she reportedly said. Mr Schaefer is in jail charged with child abuse and aiding secret police during the 1973-1990 military regime. A former Nazi and Baptist preacher, he established the 13,000-hectare (32,000-acre) colony in southern Chile in 1961, after fleeing Germany

Search for bodies to begin at Chile’s Colinia Dignidad

30 Prisoners “Disappeared” By Pinochetís Military Regime May Finally Be Found (Oct. 12, 2005) Judicial officials expect to begin excavation this week for the bodies of political prisoners thought to have been killed at the Colonia Dignidad compound during the 17-year Pinochetís military dictatorship. This latest chapter in the Colonia Dignidad saga follows the arrest of former colony leader Paul Schäfer in March and the discovery of an illegal weapons cache in August. Jorge Zepeda, the judge investigating the case, will be coordinating the excavations from the nearby city of Parral, where Chileís Legal Medical Service and investigative experts have

At Cult’s Enclave in Chile, Guns and Intelligence Files

The authorities in Chile searching for victims of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship who are said to be buried at the enclave of a secretive, apocalyptic religious cult of German emigres have unearthed a large cache of weapons and intelligence files. “This arsenal is going to end up being the biggest ever found in private hands since the restoration of democracy in 1990 and in the history of Chile,” the deputy interior minister, Jorge Correa Sutil, told reporters on Wednesday. “Believe me, what has been discovered so far is of a dimension that can only be explained in a military context.”

Weapons arsenal found buried in Chile’s ex-Colonia Dignidad

Weapons Prove Colony’s Complicity During Dictatorship, Government Says (June 17, 2005) The Special Brigade of the Investigaciones Police found Chile’s largest private weapons collection buried in the German enclave formerly known as Colonia Dignidad. A few days ago, police were alerted to the arsenal’s whereabouts by some of the colony’s settlers, who were being questioned in connection with human rights abuses that allegedly took place at the enclave during Chile’s military dictatorship. About 50 people from Colonia Dignidad have been interrogated in the past month. On Tuesday, cranes dug near the colony’s guest house and found two bunkers, which contained

Chile discovers weapons cache on cult grounds

SANTIAGO, Chile – Chilean officials have discovered a cache of machine guns and rocket-launchers on the property of a secretive German cult, one of the biggest weapons finds in the South American country’s history. The cache was discovered during a probe into ex-cult leader Paul Schaefer, the German citizen accused of aiding the secret police during Chile’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship. “Believe me, what’s been discovered so far is of a dimension that can only be explained in a military context,” Interior Minister Jorge Correa said on Wednesday. “We’re talking about a large arsenal and I must stress that it’s going