For Immediate Release
June 27, 2016 [email protected]
Contact: Lisa Cohen, 310-395- 2544
Former Pinochet Lieutenant Found Liable for Murder and Torture of Chilean Folksinger
A six-person jury in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Florida found Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nunez liable for the 1973 detention, torture and execution of Chilean social icon Víctor Jara
Orlando, Florida—On June 27, 2016, a jury found Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nunez of Deltona, Florida liable for the torture and murder of Víctor Jara, a Chilean musician whom Rolling Stone Magazine called one of the top fifteen protest artists of all time. Victor Jara was killed in the days following General Augusto Pinochet’s overthrow of democratically elected President Salvador Allende of Chile. The court ordered Barrientos to pay $28 million in damages, $8 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages.
Joan Jara, Victor Jara’s 88-year old widow, attended the trial and said, “It has been a long journey seeking justice for Victor’s death. His songs continue to be sung today, and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. Today, there is some justice for Victor’s death, and for the thousands of families in Chile who have sought truth. I hope that the verdict today continues the healing.”
C. Dixon Osburn of the Center for Justice and Accountability said, “We believe that perpetrators of the worst human rights crimes should be held to account, no matter how long it takes or where they try to hide. We must strive for a world where all can live freely, unafraid to speak up or sing out for equality, opportunity and responsibility. We hope that the verdict today provides some measure of justice and accountability for those who have fought so hard to see this day.”
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and pro-bono co-counsel Chadbourne & Parke, LLP filed a civil suit on September 4, 2013 before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Barrientos on behalf of Mr. Jara’s widow, Joan Jara, and children, Amanda Jara Turner and Manuela Bunster. The complaint alleged that Barrientos was responsible for the torture and execution of Mr. Jara, a famous Chilean folksinger, theater director and activist, who is cited as an inspiration by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Joan Baez, Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul & Mary, and The Clash. A professor of theater in Santiago in 1973, Jara was one of thousands of intellectuals, political leaders and perceived political supporters of the Allende government detained en masse at Chile Stadium during the early days of the brutal military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Mr. Jara’s torture and death have come to symbolize the suffering of all those detained, tortured, and killed at Chile Stadium, many of whom have yet to be identified.
Throughout the trial, the plaintiffs called many eyewitnesses to the stand, including ex-military conscripts assigned to the Chile Stadium detention center who placed Barrientos at the scene of Victor’s death. One conscript testified that Barrientos repeatedly boasted that he killed Jara. Other testimony came from former students who were incarcerated in Chile Stadium with Jara, who witnessed the brutality levied against him by the Pinochet regime.
CJA Legal Director Kathy Roberts, who questioned Joan Jara during the trial, said: “This is the first trial seeking accountability for the death of Víctor Jara. The verdict in this case represents another signficant step to understanding what happened at Chile Stadium in the first days after the 1973 coup. I could not be more proud of the Jara family in this moment, and I thank them for their unwavering strength and perseverance.”
About the Center for Justice and Accountability: The Center for Justice and Accountability is an international human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other severe human rights abuses around the world through litigation, policy advocacy and outreach in pursuit of truth, justice and redress for victims and survivors. www.cja.org