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(August 29, 2006) Paul Schaefer, the former leader of the German cult-colony Colonia Dignidad, was sentenced Monday to seven years in jail for his involvement with a cache of arms found in 2005.

Judge Jorge Zepeda also sentenced Schaefer aides Kart Van den Berg and Kurt Schnellenkamp to five years in prison in the 75-page ruling.

Zepeda requested the extradition of another former aide, Albert Schreiber, who currently resides in Germany.

The sentence is the first one issued by Zepeda since he took charge in 2005 of all crimes committed at the colony. Schaffer had previously been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the various sexual crimes he committed while leading the colony.

Police found the weapons collection buried in the former cult-colony in June of last year (ST, June 17, 2005), including 85 submachine guns, 60 hand grenades, 14 FAL rifles, 18 antipersonnel mines, 18 cluster grenades, rocket launchers, telescopic sights and large amounts of ammunition. Sources involved in the discovery said mortar bombs and a land-to-air missile were also found.

The government said the weapons confirmed the colony’s “complicity in paramilitary operations” during the military dictatorship.

Sources at the dig also say that files containing information on leftist dissidents during the military dictatorship were found among the weapons.

After the 1973 coup in which Augusto Pinochet took power, the colonists began to forge links with the military and, according to a government report, Colonia Dignidad became a “detention and torture center” used by the DINA and the CNI secret police forces. Once democracy was restored to Chile, investigation into Schaefer’s activities began, forcing him to leave the country.

Schaefer was apprehended in Buenos Aires (ST, March 11, 2005) and then deported to Chile. He is believed to have sexually abused as many as 10,000 young children over a 40-year period. He was also allegedly involved in numerous human rights violations, including torture and forced disappearances.

The colony is accused of the disappearance of Russian-born U.S. citizen Boris Weisfeiler. He was last seen Jan. 4, 1985, camping near the boundaries of the German colony. New information found last week shed further light on this disappearance (ST, August 17).

In July, a former Colonia Dignidad member provided evidence that political prisoners had been disappeared and then chemically burned at the compound (ST, July 25).

By Nathan Crooks (

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