Five more arrested in Chile for Pinochet-era immolation

Santiago (AFP) - A Chilean judge on Monday ordered the arrest of five more former soldiers for allegedly burning alive a teenage photographer seized at a protest against the late dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1986.

The arrest orders issued by Judge Mario Carroza bring to 12 the number of former members of the military accused in the gruesome killing.

Rodrigo Rojas, a 19-year-old, and Carmen Gloria Quintana, 18, were arrested July 2, 1986 by a military patrol and allegedly doused with gasoline and set aflame, then left for dead on the outskirts of Santiago.

Rojas died and Quintana was horribly disfigured, but the case was closed in 1990 with just one person being convicted of negligence.

The court at the time accepted the government's contention that the teens were burned after a homemade bomb exploded.

But the case was reopened in 2013 after relatives of the two youths filed lawsuits.

A break came when a former soldier stepped forward to testify about what happened on that day.

Quintana said however that the full story has yet to be told.

"The army has a lot of information that it has not turned over, and it has a debt to the country," she said in an interview with Chilean television.

Quintana suffered burns to 60 per cent of her body. She now lives in Canada.

"This is the time for it to assume its responsibility as an institution," she told the Chilevision network.

"I want justice," she said, "nothing more and nothing less than justice."

President Michelle Bachelet, who was tortured during the Pinochet regime and whose father died from a beating by its agents in 1974, also called on those with information about past abuses to come clean.

"There are people who know the truth about many cases that remain unsolved and Chile asks them to follow the example of conscript Fernando Guzman and help make amends for so much pain," she said in a speech.

"Just as I said in September 2014 that those with information about human rights violations, civilians or military, needed to turn it over before it was too late, today I want to reiterate that call to those who have information, because there has been enough silence."

On Friday, six former officers and non-commissioned officers in charge of the patrol that allegedly set the youths on fire were charged with murder. A seventh, who drove the patrol truck, was charged as an accessory.

Those ordered arrested Monday also included former officers and non-commissioned officers. Four have been taken into custody and were being questioned by the judge, and a fifth was still at large, court sources said.

This second group of former soldiers belonged to a separate military patrol that allegedly took part in the youths' arrest.

They were commanded by army captain Pedro Fernandez Dittus, retired, who was convicted in the earlier trial of negligence.

Rojas had just returned to Chile from the United States, where he had been living with his exiled mother. He died after four days of agony from his burns.

Pinochet seized power in 1973 in a military coup that overthrew president Salvador Allende, and ruled until 1990, although he stayed on for eight more years as head of the military, which gave him immunity from prosecution. Pinochet died in 2006.