The Associated Press
December 28, 2008

In Chile, 3 more false dirty-war victims

Associated Press Writer

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Three more people listed as missing victims of the nation's dictatorship have either been located or died under unrelated circumstances.

Activists on Sunday said the cases _ now four in all _ threaten to tarnish efforts to faithfully document abuses under dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 regime. Chile still mourns more than 1,100 political prisoners who vanished at the hands of the military dictatorship.

Officials maintain the four reappearances are isolated cases among more than 1,100 missing victims of the dictatorship who were presumably abducted and killed.

But presidential spokesman Edgardo Riveros said Sunday that the government is analyzing whether to reopen Chile's post-dictatorship truth and reconciliation commission, saying it also could be an opportunity to recognize victims who were never documented.

Interior Deputy Secretary Patricio Rosende announced that special pension benefits have been suspended to the families of "missing" Chileans Carlos Rojas Campos and Edgardo Palacios.

Rojas went missing when he resettled in Argentina, attracting attention only in 2005 when his Chilean parents requested pension payments as victims of the region's dirty war against dissidents. Palacios died homeless and was identified by his family, although relatives continued to collect benefits for his disappearance.

Another Chilean listed as missing, Emperatriz Villagra, apparently died from complications of childbirth. Her family never received government compensation.

In November, a man who was officially dead, German Cofre, turned up alive _ and with a second family in Argentina.

Soldiers surrounded Cofre's house in 1973 and led him away to a secret prison. His wife never saw him again before she died in 1997.

Lorena Pizarro, president of an association for relatives of the disappeared, blamed the government for not adopting better procedures for resolving disappearance cases and the conservative political opposition for not pressuring the armed forces for more information.

But Pizarro said four reappearances do not change the historical equation in Chile.

"The horror of the dictatorship is of such a magnitude that even if there are three, four, eight, or 10 cases of false disappearances, it doesn't diminish what was state-sponsored terrorism," she said.

Opposition congresswoman Karla Rubilar, president of the congressional human rights commission, said the reappearances could plant unwarranted doubts in the public mind about human rights abuses under Pinochet.