From Calama to Oklahoma

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The University of Oklahoma’s Center for Social Justice has honored Chile’s Association of Relatives of Executed and Missing Political Prisoners of Calama with an award named in memory of Clyde Snow, a forensic anthropologist who helped identify victims of political violence in Argentina, Guatemala and other countries. The award committee said that the Calama group “embodies the spirit of the award, to recognize the efforts of those who strive to restore the humanity and dignity of communities that have suffered human rights violations.”

Here’s a link to an earlier post on the case, which was the subject of a book by my friend and colleague Paula Allen:

A crime news summary

The Most Recent: The Chilean Foreign Ministry has asked Venezuelan authorities to investigate and punish those responsible for the kidnapping and shooting of Juan Carlos Fernandez, the Chilean consul who was abducted November 11 as he was leaving a hotel. Fernandez was held for two hours, threatened, beaten and shot before his kidnappers dumped him on a Caracas street. He was then taken to a hospital where he was treated and released the following day.  “Our embassy in Venezuela quickly informed the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry of this deed, expressing the concern of the Chilean government over this violent incident and it has requested the complete clarification of the event,” a statement released by the Chilean Foreign Ministry said.

Last week: A judge has ruled that Father Fernando Karadima did sexually abuse three minors but closed the case, citing the statute of limitations on crimes committed in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Vatican found him guilty in January of this year, removing him from the priesthood and sentencing the 81-year old to “prayer and penance.”  The Church has also published a list of 17 priests and one deacon charged with sexual abuse.

A 1979 murder: The body of six-year old Rodrigo Anfruns, who was kidnapped from his home in Santiago, was exhumed from Santiago’s General Cemetery as part of a reopened investigation of his death.   Chilean police searched for 11 days, until a 16-year old confessed to the murder and led authorities to the body in a vacant lot near the family’s home—a site they had already searched previously.  The teenager later recanted, charging that he had been pressured into confessing to the crime by members of the Pinochet regime’s secret police. The case was closed in 1982 when a judge ruled there was no evidence pointing to anyone other than the teenager, reopened in 2004 when a retired policeman contacted the Anfruns family with new information and closed two years later due to “lack of evidence.” And in 2007 Chilean courts reopened and closed the case again.  The judge in charge of this fourth inquiry into Rodrigo Anfruns’s death told the press that all possible leads will be investigated.

A 1973 series of killings: Chile’s Servicio Medico Legal has identified the remains of another five victims of the Caravan of Death, a notorious series of summary executions in Calama and other northern cities in the aftermath of the military coup.  The victims’ bodies were buried in unmarked graves, then removed and dumped into the ocean in an effort to hide the crimes, but bone fragments and other forensic evidence have allowed investigators to identify those killed and return the remains to their families for burial.  To date 12 of the 26 men killed in Calama have been identified.