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Chile reopens 1973 case of murdered leftist singer

Latest update : 2008-06-04

A Chilean judge has decided to reopened the case of Victor Jara, a popular leftist folk singer who was tortured and murdered in the early days of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

A Chilean judge on Tuesday reopened the murder case of beloved leftist folk singer Victor Jara, who was tortured andkilled in the early days of the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. 

Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes reversed his decision of three weeks ago to close the investigation saying it was "reasonable" to look into some of the 40 pieces of new evidence provided by the singer's family and lawyers. 

"This opens the way to continue investigating and searching for the truth," widow Joan Jara told reporters. She called on more Chileans to come forward with evidence of his murder. 

Fuentes ruled in early May that Jara was killed in 1973 by retired colonel Mario Manriquez Bravo, the officer in charge of a stadium where the singer was held prisoner, but he closed the case after one conviction. 

Jara's family says the army is shielding other soldiers responsible for the killing.
 
Jara, a hero to many Chileans, was one of thousands of people arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in Santiago after Pinochet seized power in a bloody coup that toppled Socialist president Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973. 

The popular singer-songwriter, who had campaigned for Allende, was machine-gunned to death. 

Witnesses say soldiers broke his hands and then told him to play his guitar, and that Jara sang them a socialist song and
was found dead soon after. 

Manriquez Bravo, who was chief of security at Chile Stadium during the coup, is under house arrest and will be sentenced at a later date.
 
Jara's family urged former military officers to come forward and provide information that could indict other soldiers involved in killing the singer-songwriter, who is often evoked by international music superstars. 

Jara's best-known song "I remember you Amanda" -- which has been revived in Chile in a reggae version -- still brings tears to the eyes of Chileans who lived through the dictatorship. 

The stadium where he died is now named after him. 

The former head of Pinochet's secret service is in jail, along with some two dozen other security agents convicted of human rights crimes. Hundreds of other former members of his security forces are under investigation. 

Chile has long grappled with bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes committed under Pinochet. Families of the victims say justice is dragging its feet in many cases.

Date created : 2008-06-04

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