The perpetrators in the death of famed Chilean folksinger Víctor Jara following the country’s 1973 military coup could soon see their day in court: a judge in the Southern Cone nation ordered the arrest of a number of former army officers accused of involvement in the murder.
Last week former Chilean Army Lieutenant Pedro Barrientos Núñez and former Colonel Hugo Sánchez Marmonti were accused of Jara’s murder, and six other military officials of complicity to commit murder.
Four men, including Sánchez Marmonti, handed themselves into Chilean authorities Wednesday while a judge ordered the extradition of Barrientos Nuñez who currently resides in Florida.
If Víctor's case serves as an example, we're pushing forward in demanding justice for Víctor with the hope that justice will follow for everyone.
- Joan Jara, Widow of Víctor Jara
The four men in custody have been taken to a special military jail, and the other defendants would be detained in the coming days, Judge Miguel Vázquez said.
He added that one of the defendants, Roberto Souper Onfray, who is accused of being an accomplice, was undergoing medical tests at a psychiatric clinic.
Barrientos Nuñez has denied any role in the death of Jara, which is remembered as one of the Chilean dictatorship’s most brutal crimes.
Soon after the military coup on September 11, 1973 that installed Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power and overthrew the government of socialist leader Salvador Allende, Jara was taken along with around 5,000 of other prisoners of the new regime to the Santiago soccer stadium.
He was repeatedly beat, tortured and had the bones in his hands smashed, which caused his captors to mockingly suggest that he play guitar, witnesses claimed. After defiantly singing part of his song sang "Venceremos" (We Will Win) he was shot 44 times and his body was dumped on a road on the outskirts of Santiago.
Víctor Jara’s widow Joan held a news conference Wednesday in the stadium where Jara and thousands of other leftists were detained during the coup. She said the charges against Barrientos and seven other former officers is a sign of hope that justice is possible for all the deaths and disappearances.
"If Víctor's case serves as an example, we're pushing forward in demanding justice for Víctor with the hope that justice will follow for everyone," she told reporters, according to the BBC.
Jara was a member of the Chilean Communist Party, which became a main target of Pinochet during the coup. The singer-songwriter was part of the Nueva Canción folk movement in Chile and was a supporter of Allende.
His body was exhumed in 2009 as part of an investigation to clarify the circumstances of his death.
More than 3,000 people were killed by state authorities during the Pinochet dictatorship.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.