Chilean judge indicts five aides to cult leader

Expatica/April 1, 2005

Santiago -- A Chilean judge has indicted five people who helped a German while he was hiding in Argentina as he faced numerous allegations of human rights abuses and sexual abuse in Chile, press reports said on Thursday.

The judge accused Peter Schmidt, Mathias Gerlach, Felipe Zeitner, Rebecca Schaefer and Renata Freitag of protecting Paul Schaefer, a former Nazi soldier and the onetime leader of the "Colonia Dignidad" cult and commune in Chile. Schaefer left the country in 1997 to escape accusations of sex abuse and other crimes.

The German citizen is also accused of letting the commune be used as a centre to torture and kill political prisoners during the 1973- 1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Chilean police can now seek an international arrest warrant for the five, who are in Argentina.

Schaefer, 83, a former nurse who served in the army of Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler, founded Colonia Dignidad in 1961 with other Germans.

He was arrested in Argentina on 10 March and deported to Chile. He has been indicted in two cases of disappeared political victims and also on 26 counts of sexual abuse of minors. Schaefer has denied the charges and said the Chilean investigative police fabricated the sexual abuse accusations.

He has admitted that he allowed Colonia Dignidad to be used for military exercises during the Pinochet dictatorship but said he did not know what those exercises were.

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