Michael Müller, new leader of Colonia
Dignidad, now Villa Baviera, admitted tortures took place in the
DIGNIDAD LEADER PAUL SCHAEFER DEPORTED TO CHILE
To Be Interrogated By Judge Billard Today
(March 14, 2005)
Paul Schaefer, the former leader of Colonia Dignidad, will be
questioned today (Monday) by the first of three Chilean judges who
are investigating criminal charges against him.
Chile’s most wanted fugitive, will be asked about the disappearance
of a left activist who was last seen within the colony in 1974,
about the 26 counts of child sex abuse that have been filed against
him, and about the disappearance of Russian-born U.S. citizen Boris
Schaefer was arrested Thursday near Buenos Aires
after eight years on the run from Chilean courts (ST, March 11). His
deportation to Chile was authorized after a conversation between
Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and his Argentine counterpart Nestor
Lagos and Kirchner agreed to speed up an expulsion
procedure to assure Schaefer’s immediate return to Chile, rather
than wait for the lengthy extradition practice. Lagos sent Interior
Undersecretary Jorge Correa Sutil to Argentina on Friday so that the
Schaefer issue could be solved before Kirchner’s official visit to
Chile on Monday, when the two leaders will discuss various bilateral
issues, including an ongoing dispute about diminishing natural gas
supplies from Argentina..
The German-born religious cult
leader landed in Santiago Sunday and is being held at the medical
clinic of the Investigaciones police. After his blood pressure
surged Friday, Schaefer spent a night in a hospital outside Buenos
Aires. Still, his poor health did not interfere with the deportation
He is now stable, according to Dr. Daniel Correa
Suárez, who said the 83-year-old Schaefer has undergone several
medical tests and “answers to questions, though with
Judge Joaquín Billard, who issued an
international arrest order for Schaefer last November for the 1974
disappearance of Alvaro Vallejos Villagrán of the Movement of the
Revolutionary Left (MIR), will be the first to question Schaefer on
Monday. He requested the presence of German translators.
Another judge, Hernán González of the Appeals Court of
Talca, Region VII, convicted and sentenced Schaefer in absentia
Saturday for sexually abusing 26 minors. Last year, 22 other members
of Colonia Dignidad were found guilty of aiding the sex abuse,
including Dr. Harmut Hopp, Schaefer’s second-in-command (ST, Nov.
González also issued an international arrest order
against the four people that were with Schaefer at the time of his
arrest: his adoptive daughter Rebeca Schaefer Schneider, his
personal nurse Renata Freitag, his bodyguard Matías Gerlach and his
collaborator Peter Schmidt.
A third judge, Alejandro Solís,
is expected to question Schaefer in connection with the
disappearance of Russian-born U.S. citizen Boris Weisfeiler, who was
last seen near the Argentine border in Region VII in January 1985
(ST, Dec. 3, 2004) and who is believed to have been held at Colonia
Schaefer has also been wanted by German
authorities since 1961, when he fled child molestation charges and
moved to Chile to found a 17,000-hectare farming and religious
community in Chile’s southern Region VII.
A German Army nurse
during World War II, Schaefer became the head of the Social Private
Mission, a religious foundation in Siegburg, a town near Bonn,
during the 1950s. The institution was a charitable organization
ostensibly to provide education and healthcare for orphans.
When he fled Germany following pedophilia charges, up to 200
members of the Social Private Mission gradually followed him to
Chile, where he became the head of a similar foundation and was
known as their “Permanent Uncle.”
Throughout the years,
people who have managed to flee the colony and locals have pointed
at Colonia Dignidad as a center of abduction, forced labor and
sexual abuse (See Today’s Feature), and Chile’s failure to locate
and arrest Schaefer since democracy was restored in 1990 has been a
nagging issue to the center-left Concertacion alliance government.
After the 1973 coup in which Augusto Pinochet took power,
the colonists began to forge links with the military and, according
to the Valech Report, Colonia Dignidad became a “detention and
torture center” used by the DINA and the CNI, the secret police of
the military government.
But the strong protection net
around Schaefer has always kept him clear of the courts, and
residents at the colony have not admitted to tortures until
recently. Peter Müller, the new leader of Villa Baviera, recognized
Sunday that torture took place inside the colony.
out many things through the Valech report, and I am convinced that
these things they accuse us of correspond to the truth,” said
Müller. “I don’t represent Colonia Dignidad, but rather a new entity
called Villa Baviera, and I am willing to collaborate with the
judges so that these issues are clarified.”
attempted a face-lift of the former colony, trying to open it up to
tourism and giving its young people the chance to go study at
universities throughout the country.
But Luis Henríquez,
former vice director of the Investigaciones police, warns that the
colony’s old leadership still lives on the premises of Villa
Baviera, and takes part in all the activities and decision-making
“The former structure is still functioning,”
Henríquez told La Nación. “Gerhard Mücke, Kurt Schnellenkamp and
Gerd Seewald are still there. They are the ones that still make
Joaquín Lavín, presidential candidate for the
rightist Alliance for Chile, pushed Sunday for investigations of
human rights violations that took place within the
“Everything has to be investigated,” Lavín said.
“Abuses against kids are the first and most important thing, and if
(Schaefer) also participated in human rights violations, he has to
But Sen. Jaime Naranjo, the president of the
Senate’s Human Rights Commission, said the Alliance for Chile should
apologize for having collaborated in the network that protected the
“The UDI should apologize for having supported
Colonia Dignidad in the recent past, and Lavín should tell his
people that they should at least apologize,” said Naranjo.
1990, when newly elected President Patricio Aylwin announced he
would end Colonia Dignidad’s legal status as a charitable
organization and start an investigation in the colony’s past, newly
elected senators from the National Renovation and the Independent
Democratic Union – which together form the rightist Alliance for
Chile – wrote Aylwin asking him to stop persecuting the colony.
SOURCE: EL MERCURIO, LA TERCERA, LA NACIÓN, RADIO
By Irene Caselli (firstname.lastname@example.org)