Walter Klug Rivera: Pinochet-era colonel arrested in Argentina after fleeing Chile

The Chilean ex-army colonel was convicted in the disappearance and murder of 23 workers in 1973 shortly after Augusto Pinochet seized power in a military coup

Joanna Taylor
Monday 14 June 2021 13:29
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An ex-colonel convicted of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet has been arrested in Argentina after fleeing from neighbouring Chile, the South American nation’s authorities report.

Walter Klug Rivera was apprehended outside his hotel in Buenos Aires on Saturday, which Argentine police say he intended to leave within the next few hours to continue his escape.

Klug Rivera was convicted in the disappearance and murder of 23 workers in 1973 after Pinochet seized power in Chile in an infamous coup that resulted in the death of sitting president Salvador Allende.

Allende, the socialist leader of the democratically-elected Unidad Popular party, was ousted with the support of the United States, declassified documents from Richard Nixon’s presidency suggest.

More than 3,000 people died or disappeared during Pinochet’s military rule, Chile’s government say, and thousands more socialists, leftists and other dissidents were tortured or exiled, police investigations and truth commissions have shown.

Klug Rivera is to be detained in Buenos Aires until Monday, when he has been ordered to appear before Julián Ercolini, a federal judge who will begin the process of extraditing him back to Chile, Argentine media say.

Police confirmed his arrest on Twitter, writing: “Walter Klug Rivera was apprehended outside the ... hotel where he was staying, which he intended to leave in the next few hours in order to continue evading justice.”

Argentina’s minister of the interior, Eduardo de Pedro, posted on the social media site that Klug Rivera’s extradition has been ordered and that he is wanted by Interpol for crimes against humanity.

“We have ordered the expulsion of the Chilean citizen Walter Klug Rivera, who entered Argentina illegally escaping from the justice of his country, where he is accused of the qualified homicide of 23 people during the Pinochet dictatorship,” he wrote.

“Klug Rivera also has a red notice from Interpol for his arrest for crimes against humanity. With this measure, the Argentine Republic reaffirms its commitment to the full exercise of human rights, justice and international order.”

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