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April 19, 2021

Judge in Chile orders arrests over missing US hiker

A judge in Chile has ordered the arrest of eight former police and army officials over the kidnapping of a US hiker during the Pinochet years, the BBC reports. Boris Weisfeiler, a Princeton University mathematics professor, disappeared in 1985 while hiking on his own near Chile’s border with Argentina. Judge Jorge Zepeda cited evidence from declassified US files. This includes witness accounts of how Mr Weisfeiler was abducted and brought to a secret police torture centre. The centre was located in Colonia Dignidad, a former German enclave founded in the 1960s by a former Nazi nurse, near the city of Parral, some 350km (220 miles) south of the capital, Santiago. The suspects will be tried for “aggravated kidnapping” and “complicity” over the American’s disappearance, judicial authorities said in a statement. Mr Weisfeiler, who was born in Moscow in 1941 and naturalised as a US citizen in 1981, had been visiting Chile alone during his winter holiday when he vanished. It is believed he was walking near the border with Argentina when the suspects allegedly seized him because he was wearing military garb, making them believe he was a militant. Some 350 cases remain open involving about 700 military officers and civilians active under the late Gen Augusto Pinochet’s rule (1973-1990). Some 3,000 people disappeared or were killed during this time.

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