Chile report shows scope of
sanctioned torture policy

SANTIAGO, Chile - The long-awaited report of an official commission investigating torture is finally in the hands of President Ricardo Lagos and is to be published soon.

But even before the findings are formally made public, the graphic, wrenching report is forcing Chileans to reassess their past and recalibrate their political attitudes.

The 1,200-page document covers the period from the coup of Sept. 11, 1973, that installed Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power through 1989, when military rule was about to give way to a democratic civilian government. It concludes that during the dictatorship, especially in the first phase, ``torture was a policy of the state, meant to repress and terrorize the population.''

Based on testimony from 35,000 victims, the commission, led by Monsignor Sergio Valech, the bishop emeritus of Santiago, identified 14 main forms of torture.

Information about the report was provided by people with access to the findings. A report about the findings also has appeared in the daily newspaper La Tercera.

An official study undertaken in 1991 identified about 300 locations, mostly military barracks and other government buildings, as places where kidnapped prisoners had been confined or killed. The new report expands the number of sites to 1,200 and specifies which military, police and intelligence units inflicted the torture, though the names of officers are withheld.


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