Chile: Victor Jara widow asks for US extradition

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm •  Published: January 2, 2013
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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The widow of folk singer Victor Jara called on the U.S. government Wednesday to extradite a retired Chilean military official charged with murdering her husband during Chile's 1973 coup.

Pedro Barrientos Nunez now lives in Florida and has denied any role in Jara's killing, long remembered as one of the Chilean dictatorship's most brutal crimes.

Joan Turner Jara called the charges against Barrientos and seven other ex-military officers "a message of hope," not only that her husband's murder could be solved, but that many other families may find justice as well. More than 3,000 people were slain during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and most of those crimes remain unsolved.

Investigating Judge Miguel Vazquez, who charged the men last week, has issued an arrest order for Barrientos and wants Chile's government to file a formal extradition request to the U.S. so that he faces trial along with the others.

Turner and her daughters, Manuela and Amanda, urged Chile's Supreme Court to formally request Barrientos' extradition from the United States.

The Jara family spoke next to a statue of Victor Jara inside the stadium where the folk singer and thousands of other leftists were detained during the first days of the coup.

Jara was a popular singer, theater director and university professor who was rounded up with his students and tortured inside Estadio Chile, which has since been renamed Estadio Victor Jara.

The hands he used to play guitar were smashed, his head was beaten and his body shot with at least 44 bullets as a warning to those who challenged Pinochet's authority.

But his wife, a British dancer, overcame the fear. For years she encouraged stadium survivors to provide testimony and evidence to the courts. Jara's body was exhumed for a proper autopsy in 2009, and last week the investigative judge announced charges against the eight former military officials.