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GOVERNMENT INTERVENES IN U.S. CITIZEN’S
(June 14, 2006) Chile’s State Defense
Council (CDE) will take part in the investigation into the 1985
disappearance of U.S. citizen Boris Weisfeiler. Weisfeiler lawyer
Hernán Fernández claims the 20-year investigation has been hampered
by the Chilean military’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation.
Weisfeiler disappeared in southern Chile while on a hiking holiday
during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
campaigners hope the CDE’s intervention in the human rights case
will put pressure on investigating Judge Jorge Zepeda. Zepeda is the
fourth judge charged with investigating the case since Weisfeiler
Boris Weisfeiler is the sole U.S. citizen still
unaccounted for among the 1,119 people who disappeared during the
17-year Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990). He was a Russian-born
U.S. university math professor who is believed to have been turned
over to a German cult community (Colonia Dignidad) by Chilean
military officials, where he was most likely killed.
years after Weisfeiler’s disappearance, a Chilean military informant
told U.S. embassy officials that he was a part of a military patrol
that arrested a foreign hiker two years earlier and concluded he was
a Russian spy. According to the informant, Weisfeiler was alive as
of 1987 and held in Colonia Dignidad, now known to have been a
torture center used by the military regime.
Since then there
have been no new leads in the case. The military has repeatedly
denied arresting Boris Weisfeiler or handing him over to Colonia
Boris Weisfeiler’s sister and niece, Olga and Anna
Weisfeiler, met with President Michelle Bachelet last Friday during
her official visit to the United States. During their meeting in
Washington D.C. the Weifeilers urged Bachelet to bring a renewed
focus to the case (ST, June 8).
Bachelet promised to “do
everything possible” to find out exactly what happened in January,
1985. The president, who acknowledged the “chaotic” state of the
case, also recognized that there were still “many unanswered
questions that require greater investigation,” said Olga
“It is encouraging that President Bachelet agreed
to meet with the Weisfeilers, and indicated a serious interest in
making a resolution of the case a higher priority,” said U.S.
Congressman Barney Frank, a Democratic Party Congressman who has
taken a special interest in the case. “I will continue to work with
the family to help ensure that the Chilean government lives up to
Congressman Frank, as Olga and Anna
Weisfeilers’ Congressional representative, has repeatedly urged both
the U.S. Government and Chilean authorities to devote more resources
to the case and to expedite a full accounting of what happened to
Olga Weisfeiler visited Chile for the fifth
time this past March with a letter signed by U.S. senators and
representatives urging Bachelet to “continue the investigation of
Professor Weisfeiler’s disappearance, so that a resolution to this
tragic case can finally be achieved” (ST, March 23).
By Cristina Dunn (firstname.lastname@example.org)