December 12, 2015 / 10:14 PM / in 2 years

Chileans shocked by radio confession of Pinochet-era executions

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A caller into a radio show shocked Chile this week with a chilling confession of executions he had taken part in as a conscript during Chile’s military dictatorship, and the socialist party said a judge had ordered his arrest.

Cut-out depicting victims of human rights abuse during the rule of former dictator Augusto Pinochet hang on a fence next to the "La Moneda" Presidential Palace during a rally in Santiago September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

A caller to the “Chacotero Sentimental” radio station on Wednesday, who identified himself as 62-year-old “Alberto”, began talking about a love affair but then moved on to describing how he had executed people during the 1970s.

The brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet ruled Chile between 1973 and 1990, when an estimated 3,200 people were murdered and another 28,000 tortured by the state. Many of the victims had been affiliated with the socialist government of Salvador Allende, who was deposed in a 1973 coup.

Courts are still hearing cases of those accused of human rights abuses.

“Alberto‘s” sometimes rambling call to the station described with little apparent remorse how “we took some of these guys out into the countryside and shot them in the head”.

“We blew them up. They fell apart. Nothing was left of them. Not even their shadow,” he told the stunned radio presenter.

“But you killed people!” said the presenter, Roberto Artiagoitia.

“I was obliged, otherwise the military would have killed me,” he replied. He said he did not know how many people he had executed, but that it was “more than” 10.

Reports of the radio show spread quickly via social media. Local media said that the police traced the call, arresting a man identified as 62-year-old Guillermo Reyes.

Chile’s socialist party said on Friday that Reyes was being investigated by a human rights judge over the execution of two members of its party in the 1970s.

Some politicians on the right still defend Pinochet’s legacy, saying the coup saved Chile from Allende’s Marxist agenda. For years, conservatives blocked attempts to prosecute members of the military accused of dictatorship-era abuses.

However, polls show support for Pinochet has declined among Chileans in recent years, while prosecutions for human rights abuses have risen.

Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien

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