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 tortured, according to official reports.
Zepeda said that between 10 and 12 opponents to the Pinochet regime were likely killed and buried on the property. He did not say when then grave was discovered.
Chilean officials said in June they discovered a cache of machine guns and rocket-launchers, one of the biggest weapons finds in the South American country’s history, at the Colonia Dignidad.
Schafer, who led the cult of several hundred German followers in southern Chile for decades, is accused of aiding the secret police during Chile’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship.
He fled Chile in 1997 and eluded capture until his arrest last year in Buenos Aires and is currently in custody in Santiago.
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