Seven Chilean army officers were arrested Tuesday over the brutal 1986 burning of two pro-democracy activists.
During the reign of dictator Augusto Pinochet, two activists were doused with gas by soldiers, then set on fire on July 2, 1986. One, Rodrigo Rojas, an American resident, died from his burns. His fellow activist, Carmen Gloria Quintana, lived but was left severely disfigured.
Rojas was been a student at the Woodrow Wilson School in Washington, D.C. and had just returned to his native Chile to photograph anti-Pinochet protests. He and Quintana were captured, then beaten, splashed with gas, set fire, then dumped outside Santiago, where they were later found by local residents. At the time, Pinochet suggested the two had set themselves on fire.
The nearly-30-year-old case, a hallmark torture case of the Pinochet era, has recently seen new light after decades of being under a “pact of silence.” In 2013, the case was reopened; in 2014, a former army serviceman identified the seven officers allegedly involved in the attack, according to The Guardian.
Quintana, who now works with the Chilean government in diplomacy, said the officers involved in the attacks were acting under orders and should be considered victims themselves.
“The most important thing that has happened is the revelation that inside the army there is an entire system to protect this lie that they created to cover up human rights crimes,” she said.