Jan 1, 2017

Chile court extends cult leaders sentences

NEWS.com.auDeutsche Presse Agentur
DECEMBER 31, 2016

Chile's highest court has increased the sentences of three Germans found guilty for their leadership roles at the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect that oversaw child molestation and other human rights abuses.

The court increased by one year the sentences set by an appeals court to five years and one day for Kurt Schnellenkamp, Gerhard Muecke and Karl van den Berg for the formation of a criminal organisation.

The court also issued similar sentences for former Chilean intelligence agents Fernando Gomez und Pedro Espinoza. Four other defendants were released.

No more appeals are possible, and the judgement is binding.

Located in the Andean foothills 300 kilometres south of the capital Santiago, Colonia Dignidad - "Dignity Colony" - was a German commune founded by German-born cult leader Paul Schaefer in 1961.

The heavily guarded, 15,000-hectare colony was used as a secret detention and torture centre for political prisoners during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

At its height, about 300 people lived at Colonia Dignidad under draconian conditions, sealed off from the rest of the world and subject to abuse that included the systematic sexual molestation of children.

Schaefer, an ex-Nazi corporal who convinced 250 German followers to emigrate with him to Chile after authorities began investigating him, was sentenced to 33 years for child sexual abuse and other crimes and died in prison in 2010.


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