Chile cult leaders jailed for pedophilia

20th February 2013, Comments 0 comments

Four Germans and a Chilean have begun serving jail terms of up to 11 years for abusing children at a former secretive enclave of German settlers.

Four of them reported Tuesday to a courthouse in Parral, 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of Santiago, as ordered by a judge. The fifth had to be arrested and was taken to prison early Wednesday.

Late last month the Chilean Supreme Court upheld a 2004 verdict against these five former leaders of Colonia Dignidad, a cult-like community in southern Chile that was also used to hold political prisoners during the Pinochet dictatorship.

The top court found the five guilty of "rape of a minor under the age of 12 and 16 crimes of sexual abuse of minors, failure to turn over a minor and child abduction."

German nationals Gerhard Mucke and Gunter Schaffrik have begun serving 11 years in prison, and Ger Seewald a term of eight years. Seewald is the one who did not report to prison voluntarily on Tuesday.

Dennis Alvear, a Chilean, and German Kurt Schnellenkamp began five year terms.

In the original sentence a five year term was also handed down against Hartmut Hopp, a German who fled the country in 2011. Chile has sought Hopp's extradition, but Germany has rejected the request.

Hopp was considered the right hand man of Paul Schaefer, who founded the strictly governed community in 1961 and died in prison in 2010 at age 88 while serving a 20 year sentence for child abuse and torture.

Another 14 people have been convicted of covering up or being accomplices to the same crimes as the five jailed Tuesday and Wednesday and were sentenced to lesser prison terms.

Hundreds of Germans lived in the Colonia Dignidad, which supported itself through farming.

© 2013 AFP

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