Sister of American missing in Chile for 23 years vows to continue search

SANTIAGO, Chile: The sister of an American mathematician who vanished in Chile said Tuesday she's frustrated by stalled efforts to find out what happened to him under the former military dictatorship.

Boris Weisfeiler, a mathematics professor at Pennsylvania State University, was last seen on Jan. 5, 1985, hiking and camping in the mountains in southern Chile.

"My faith is fading," Olga Weisfeiler said in a joint news conference with U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons. "But I need to fight, I need to know."

According to court papers, witnesses said her brother was arrested by a military patrol near Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony, a German enclave used as a torture and detention center by the secret police of then-dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The enclave was some 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of Santiago.

Although four judges have handled the case through the years, "the most important leads, such as military involvement in Boris' arrest, Colonia Dignidad's role in Boris' fate, have not been thoroughly investigated," Olga Weisfeiler said in a statement.

She has had several meetings during her current visit, including with the most recent judge, Jorge Zepeda, who she said "has not followed up on repeated offers of help from the U.S. Embassy, including FBI assistance in the investigation."

The judge put several documents in the case under legal secrecy, preventing her lawyer from seeing them, she added.

Zepeda had no comment, but the judge has been praised for his work in other human rights cases. He oversaw the trial that led to the convictions of Colonia Dignidad's former leader, Paul Schaefer, and 14 other enclave members for human rights abuses.

Simons said finding out what happened to Weisfeiler remains a "high priority" for the U.S. government.

According to an official report, 3,190 people disappeared or were killed for political reasons during Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990. Olga Weisfeiler said her brother "was not interested in politics at all."


On the Net:

Back to top
Home  >  Americas

Latest News

Seth Mydans/International Herald Tribune
It is a sleepy time on the Thai-Cambodian border, where a dispute over sovereignty has become the first international flash point in Indochina in 20 years.
The IHT's managing editor, Alison Smale, discusses the week in world news.
Muslim banking system gets Europe's attention.
The popularity of green funerals and woodland burials grows as environmental concerns rise.
Doubts about Sarah Palin are making it harder for Republicans to exploit Obama's lack of experience.
Interviews from 2001 to 2004 provide a glimpse of Obama before he was a national figure.
The IHT's managing editor, Alison Smale, discusses the week in world news.
French producers face a dilemma: whether to embrace globalization, or to fight to preserve heritage.
The IHT's managing editor discusses European reactions to the third McCain-Obama faceoff.
Helped in part by a hit movie about Yamakasi in 2001, the discipline has spread far beyond France.
The IHT's managing editor, Alison Smale, discusses the week in world news.