News Update :

Chile reopens probe into 1976 assassination in Washington

Sunday, June 24, 2012

CHILE: A Chilean appeals court has ordered an investigation into the death of an American who was killed along with former foreign minister Orlando Letelier in a bombing in Washington nearly 36 years ago.

Letelier’s assassination was previously investigated and led to convictionsin 1993 of top Chilean secret police officials in the regime of Augusto Pinochet.

But the Santiago appeals court decided that the death of Letelier’s assistant, Ronnie Moffitt, should be investigated separately, overturning a decision by a judge who closed her case last year.

The appeals court said Moffitt’s case could not be closed because no court had rendered a judgment on her homicide.

Moffitt and Letelier were driving down Washington’s Embassy Row on September 21, 1976 when a bomb planted in the car exploded, killing them both.

Chile’s Supreme Court sentenced the former head of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), Manuel Contreras, and a former head of military intelligence, Pedro Espinoza, to seven years in prison for the crime.

Contreras has already served that sentence, but remains in prison sentenced to more than 200 years for other cases involving human rights violations.

Letelier was arrested after the 1973 military coup that toppled President Salvador Allende and installed a military dictatorship. He later went into exile in the United States, where he campaigned against the regime until his death.

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