SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Recently declassified U.S. documents relating to the 1976 assassination in Washington of a Chilean politician fleeing the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship point to Pinochet’s role in ordering his murder, according to a son of the victim.
Orlando Letelier, who served as foreign minister under socialist president Salvador Allende, was imprisoned and tortured by the Pinochet government after Allende was deposed in a coup in 1973.
He later went into exile in the United States, where he led resistance to Pinochet. In 1976 he was killed, along with his American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, by a car bomb in the center of Washington.
Agents for Chile’s secret police were later convicted of the crime, which shocked Americans and hardened attitudes toward Pinochet’s regime. About 3,000 people are estimated to have “disappeared” - presumed killed by the military government - during Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship.
The newly declassified documents were handed to President Michelle Bachelet - herself a victim of torture by the dictatorship - by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the country on Monday, Chile Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said on Wednesday.
“These documents relate to the investigation in that era, and they have to do with the personal participation of Pinochet directing authorities in the murder of my father, Orlando Letelier, and the death of Ronni Moffit, as well as his involvement in the cover-up,” Juan Pablo Letelier, a Chilean senator and a son of the victim, told Reuters.
Moffit was a 24-year-old U.S. citizen, then working as a secretary for Orlando Letelier.
The contents will be published Thursday, said Munoz. Historians have previously speculated about the roles played in the murder by both the U.S. intelligence services and Pinochet himself, who died in 2006 without being convicted of any human rights abuses.
Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien, Antonio de la Jara, Gram Slattery, and Reuters TV Editing by W Simon