General Alejando Medina, president of the Chilean Circle of Retired Admirals and Generals was arrested Monday for the murder of seven paratroopers immediately following the 1973 military coup. Thirty-two years after the paratroopers were executed by members from their own unit, Gen. Medina, then director of the military’s school of paratroopers, as well as six other retired military officials, were charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and five counts of homicide.
Gen. Medina was placed under arrest after appearing before Judge Carlos Gajardo and transferred to the Military Police Battalion (BPM) in Peñalolen. He was later released shortly thereafter on a $200,000 peso (US$375) bail while awaiting sentencing.
Judge Gajardo convicted Gen. Merino on five counts of homicide for the murders of Alberto Ampuero, David González, Julio Martinez, Javier Sobarzo, Enrique Toledo, and the two counts of kidnapping for the disappearance of Luis Barraza, and Jorge Piérola whose bodies have never been found. All seven men were arrested on Sept. 11, 1973, the day of Chile’s military coup, and executed by a firing squad between Sept 12 and Sept. 15, 1973.
According to Nelson Caucoto, the prosecuting attorney in the case, the men were murdered because of suspected links to the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR). After being arrested on the day of the coup, they were held at a detention center in Peldehue and later transferred to a military van for transportation to the National Stadium where approximately 7,000 suspected left wing political activists were tortured or killed immediately following the coup.
According to the court documents filed in the case, when the transport van reached kilometer 5 of the Gen. San Martín highway en route to the stadium, “the men were ordered out of the van, lined up with their backs facing La Leona hill…and shot with SIG 7.62 caliber assault rifles.”
Also charged in the deaths of the paratroopers were Brigadier Rafael Sánchez, Colonel Renato Alarcón, Major Carlos Sarabia, Sub-Major Domingo Cortés, and two junior officials Fidel Segovia and Hernán Arancibia.
Gen. Merino’s lawyers plan to appeal the court’s decision.