German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has hailed the arrest of former Nazi Paul Schaefer in Argentina, saying he hoped it would shed light on alleged child sex abuse at a shady sect he led in Chile.
Schaefer, 83, was arrested on Thursday in a joint operation between Argentine and Chilean police in a small town west of Buenos Aires, Argentine police said.
He led a German sect in southern Chile called Colonia Dignidad and had been in hiding since a warrant for his arrest on multiple counts of pedophilia was issued in August 1996.
Schaefer was convicted of the charges in absentia in November 2004 along with 22 other Dignidad members.
Fischer said: “The arrest of Paul Schaefer is good news. “His arrest will allow a comprehensive investigation all the criminal activities in the former Colonia Dignidad to be carried out and punishments to be handed down.
“The Chilean and German authorities have charged Schaefer with serious crimes, including false imprisonment and sexual abuse of minors.”
A former corporal and medic in the Nazi army, Schaefer fled Germany to Chile in 1961.
He founded Colonia Dignidad in the mountains near the city of Parral, 350km south of Santiago, with other German immigrants.
The community still exists but it has been renamed Villa Baviera in a bid to shake off its past.
Around 300 people, mainly Germans, still live there.