Former leaders of Chilean cult turn themselves in

Four former leaders of Colonia Dignidad, found guilty of major abuse conspiracy, turn themselves into authorities to serve out sentences

The Santiago Times, Chile/February 19, 2013

On Tuesday four of the six former leaders of the infamous Colonia Dignidad voluntarily reported to the courts to serve out their respective sentences for their roles in the abuse of minors at the cult compound in southern Chile.

Colonia Dignidad was founded by Paul Schäfer, a former Nazi, in 1961 outside of Parral in southern Chile. In addition to hosting Schäfer’s followers, the site was also used as a torture center during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

After the return to democracy, the community was allowed to stay open despite its sordid record, only to come under fire again after more than two dozen children came forward with various accounts of abuse.

Following the accusations, Schäfer fled to Argentina with the help of his "iron circle," but was eventually captured and died in Santiago while serving a 20-year sentence for child abuse and molestation charges.

Gerard Mucke Koschitzke, Kurt Schnellenkamp Nelaismisckies, Gunter Schaffrik Bruckmann and Dennys Alvear Henríquez, members of Schäfer’s "iron circle" were found guilty of "various crimes of sexual abuse, rape of minors and abduction of minors" by Chile’s Supreme Court on Jan. 25 and are now entering prison to serve out their time. The four men face various sentences of five to 11 years in prison.

Judge Hernán González of the Talca Court of Appeals announced that the court has notified the 19 individuals who were convicted in January that they must now report to the prisons to serve out their sentences.

One of the individuals convicted, Hartmut Hopp, escaped to Germany in 2011. All extradition requests to date have been denied.

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