September 23, 2014 / 9:59 PM / 3 years ago

Judge in Chile jails bombing suspects during investigation

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A judge in Chile has ordered two suspects linked to the country’s worst bomb attack in more than 20 years to be jailed for 10 months and placed a third under house arrest while police and the prosecutor’s office investigate.

The order issued on Tuesday by Judge Rene Cerda said Juan Flores and Nataly Casanova would be held in jail for 10 months and Guillermo Duran would be put under house arrest. After that, authorities would have to present any evidence before a court.

The three suspects, two men and a woman in their twenties, were arrested on Thursday in a poor neighborhood on the south side of Santiago and could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

“Our work does not end (here), the government, prosecutor’s office, police and courts will continue to work until these crimes are solved,” said government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde.

“Citizens can rest assured that the government, and all of the state’s institutions, will continue to work so that these crimes don’t go unpunished and we won’t rest until justice is served because that is what the victims and all Chileans demand,” said Elizalde.

President Michelle Bachelet’s government has called the Sept. 8 blast, which wounded 14 people near an underground metro station in the capital Santiago’s Las Condes neighborhood, a “terrorist” act and said the government would invoke anti-terrorism laws. Those laws give prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentences.

“This is a compact and very tight group,” said Raul Guzman, prosecutor in charge of the investigation. “They don’t have contact with other anti-establishment groups.”

Chile, which returned to democracy in 1990 after a 17-year dictatorship, has long been one of Latin America’s most stable countries, but in recent years it has been plagued by a number of low-level attacks by anarchist groups.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Antonio de la Jara; Editing by Richard Lough and Ken Wills

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