Chile-DirtyWar 04-18 Web

Five indicted for priest killing

Five high-ranking retired navy officers were indicted Friday for the abduction, torture and killing a British-Chilean priest and other dissidents in the days following Chile’s 1973 military coup.

The priest, Michael Woodward, was taken into custody by security forces in the port city of Valparaiso on Sep. 16, 1973, five days after the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

Woodward was allegedly tortured with other detainees on at least two navy ships used as detention centers and died on Sep. 22. He was buried in a mass grave and his family was provided with a certificate saying he died of cardio-respiratory problems. But prosecutors believe he died from his injuries under torture.

The five men were taken into custody and sent to military barracks in Valparaiso on Friday.


Also charged was Carlos Costa, a navy doctor.

Quezada said the defendants all maintain their innocence, but they could not be reached independently.

Woodward, 42 at the time of his death, had been suspended from the Roman Catholic priesthood and joined the Christians for Socialism, according to a report by a commission appointed by the first post-Pinochet civilian government to investigate the rights abuses during the 1973-90 dictatorship. He had Chilean and British citizenship.

Woodward’s sister, Patricia, applauded the indictments.

"The case of my brother has taken a very important step ahead," she said. "I hope this means we are reaching truth and justice for Miguel and other victims of the navy."

About 3,200 people were killed for political reasons under Pinochet, the post-dictatorship commission found.

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