By Henry Samuel
The Telegraph, December 8, 2010
"Fourteen officials from Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship went on trial in absentia in Paris on Wednesday over the disappearance of four French citizens in the mid-1970s. The Frenchmen were among more than 3,000 leftists murdered for political reasons during the 'Dirty War' during the 1973-1990 rule of Gen Pinochet. Many 'vanished,' likely kidnapped and killed, then buried in unmarked graves, leaving relatives unable to properly mourn their dead. None of the accused was in the courtroom. But the families of the four men were present, some clutching black and white photos of the disappeared, as the judge read out charges of kidnapping, arbitrary detention, torture and barbarous acts. Among the 14, most of them military officers, was Manuel Contreras, the former head of the feared Dina secret police in the Pinochet regime. Contreras is believed to have been instrumental in many of the political murders and disappearances in the dictatorship's 'Dirty War' against the Left. He is currently serving life in a Chilean jail for assassinating the defence chief of Salvador Allende, Chile's leftist president who was ousted by Gen Pinochet in a violent US-backed coup in 1973. The disappeared French are George Klein, who was a former adviser to Allende, a priest and two members of the Revolutionary Left Movement, MIR. Gen. Pinochet was also implicated in the disappearance of the four Frenchmen but died in 2006 without ever facing trial or apologising. William Bourdon, a lawyer for the families, said the trial, which is being filmed due to its historic importance, 'will allow a precise, global, almost exhaustive judicial snapshot of the apparatus of repression put in place by General Augusto Pinochet.' [...]"