Colonia Dignidad founder sentenced to another seven years

Deutsche Presse-Agentur/August 28, 2006

Santiago -- Paul Schaefer, a German who founded a notorious religious commune in Chile, was sentenced to another seven years in prison, this time for possessing illegal weapons, a media report said Monday.

In May, Schaefer was sentenced to 20 years in prison for 25 cases of sexual abuse of minors.

A former corporal in Adolf Hitler's army, Schaefer started the commune in southeastern Chile with other German emigrants. While preaching rigid morality, he sexually abused children and teenagers at the sealed-off complex, authorities say.

Schaefer, 84, also faces charges of human rights abuses. Prosecutors allege that the dreaded secret police of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990, killed and tortured political opponents at Colonia Dignidad and that Schaefer took part.

Schaefer has denied the charges and accused Chilean investigators of fabricating the sexual abuse accusations. It was not clear if he would appeal the sentence.

In the more recent sentencing, co-defendants from within the sect received sentences between 1.5 and five years, the newspaper Mercurio reported Monday, quoting justice officials.

In the 1950s, Schaefer convinced hundreds of Germans to emigrate to Chile, founding his commune in the early 1960s near Parral in southern Chile.

The commune procured weapons to protect their compound.

Schaefer disappeared in 1997 as investigations began into his crimes, but was arrested in Argentina and extradited to Chile.

The settlement lost its legal status and tax-free privileges after Pinochet fell, and renamed itself 'Villa Baviera.'

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