Sister of missing Penn State prof. continues hunt

Associated Press/January 29, 2008

Santiago, Chile -- The sister of an American mathematician who vanished in Chile said Tuesday she's frustrated by stalled efforts to find out what happened to him under the former military dictatorship.

Boris Weisfeiler, a mathematics professor at Penn State University, was last seen on Jan. 5, 1985, hiking and camping in the mountains in southern Chile.

"My faith is fading," Olga Weisfeiler said in a joint news conference with U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons. "But I need to fight, I need to know."

Witnesses said her brother was arrested by a military patrol near Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony, a German enclave in southern Chile used as a torture and detention center by the secret police of then-dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Four judges have handled the case through the years. "The most important leads, such as military involvement in Boris' arrest and Colonia Dignidad's role in Boris' fate, have not been thoroughly investigated," Olga Weisfeiler said in a statement.

She complained that the most recent judge in the case, Jorge Zepeda, "has not followed up on repeated offers of help from the U.S. Embassy, including FBI assistance in the investigation" and has kept her attorneys from seeing some documents.

Zepeda had no comment, but the judge has been praised for his work in other human rights cases. He oversaw the trial that led to the convictions of Colonia Dignidad's former leader, Paul Schaefer, and 14 other enclave members for human rights abuses.

Simons said finding out what happened to Weisfeiler remains a "high priority" for the U.S. government.

According to an official report, 3,190 people disappeared or were killed for political reasons during Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990. Olga Weisfeiler said her brother "was not interested in politics at all."

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