Australia detains nanny over alleged Pinochet-era crimes
SYDNEY, Australia – Australia on Wednesday, February 20, announced it had arrested a nanny living in the country for more than 3 decades on allegations of Pinochet-era kidnapping and torture.
Adriana Elcira Rivas Gonzalez, 66, was detained on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Australia's attorney general office said, adding she "is wanted to face prosecution in the Republic of Chile for aggravated kidnapping offenses."
She is alleged to have been a member of dictator Augusto Pinochet's feared secret police in the 1970s and is wanted in connection with the disappearance of a senior Communist Party official.
US-backed Pinochet, who died in 2006, toppled a democratically elected president and presided over thousands of murders, tortures and forced disappearances as Latin America was ravaged by Cold War-fuelled violence.
Court documents show she is accused of being involved in the disappearance of Victor Manuel Diaz Lopez, undersecretary general of the Communist Party.
He was detained by several agents early in the morning of May 10, 1976, transferred to a secret police facility on the outskirts of Santiago and then disappeared without trace.
Rivas had been arrested in Chile in 2007 during a return to her homeland, but escaped back to Australia in 2010 while on bail.
Chile requested her extradition in 2014 from Sydney, where she has been working part time as a nanny and a cleaner in the city's Bondi suburb.
According to Chilean human rights archive Memoria Viva, "La Chani" – as Rivas was known – was once a personal secretary to notorious secret police boss Manuel Contreras and was later linked to an infamous Lautaro Brigade death squad.
In a 2013 interview with Australian broadcaster SBS, Rivas claimed she was innocent, but defended the use of torture in Chile at the time.
"They had to break the people – it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile," she said.
More than 3,000 regime opponents and alleged collaborators were killed or went missing during Pinochet's rule, according to researchers at Chile's Diego Portales University. Nearly 40,000 were tortured.
Rivas appeared in a Sydney court Wednesday with the case adjourned until March 1.
Chilean-born lawyer Adriana Navarro, who has been lobbying for Riva's extradition, said the arrest was met with "elation as well as a lot of sadness and pain" by families of victims in Chile still seeking justice.
"They want Adriana Rivas, if she says she is not guilty of the charges, to front the Chilean justice system and be absolved if that is the case," she told reporters outside the court.
"However, the evidence that the Chilean government has and the justice system has in Chile is very sound, and there are many witnesses to Adriana Rivas' participation in the crimes," she added. – Rappler.com