Chile convicts 106 former intelligence agents

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: A portrait of King Juan Carlos of Spain hangs on the wall at the Palma de Mallorca courtroom, where The Duke of Palma, Inaki Urdangarin, will be questioned by a judge during the 'Palma Arena Trial', on February 24, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The son-in-law of King Juan Carlos of Spain, Inaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma will testify in court over allegations that he misused millions of euros of public funds, allocated to organise sports and tourism events, during his time a chairman of a non-profit foundation from 2004 to 2006. Public prosecutors suspect the non-profit foundation named 'Instituo Noos', headed by the Princess Cristina's husband, Inaki Urdangarin of siphoning away funds from public contracts awarded to companies run by Urdangarin and his business partners. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

CHILE — A Chilean judge sentenced 106 former intelligence agents for their role in the kidnappings and disappearances of 16 leftist militants during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

According to the 714-page ruling Friday night, the sentences range from 541 days to 20 years. The convictions are the result of one of the largest mass prosecutions in Chile related to human rights abuses during Pinochet’s rule from 1973-1990.

The convictions centered on 16 leftist militants who were abducted by agents of the National Intelligence Directorate between June 1974 and January 1975, transported to various detention centers and never seen again.

The secret police then tried to cover up the deaths of the 16 militants — and more than 100 others — by planting stories in foreign newspapers to imply that they were killed while fighting abroad, and not at the hands of the government.

Several of the intelligence agents sentenced are already serving sentences for other human rights violation convictions. An additional 13 agents who were charged were absolved, according to the Chilean judiciary.

In addition, the judge ordered the state to pay more than 5 billion Chilean pesos (about US$7.5 million) to the victims’ families.

Government investigations since the end of Pinochet’s rule have found that nearly 2,300 people disappeared during the dictatorship and 30,000 more were tortured.