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Victor Jara killing: Nine Chilean ex-soldiers sentenced

Chilean singer Victor Jara, who was tortured and died during the military dictatorship of [General Augusto Pinochet], is seen in this undated file picture.Victor Jara was killed when he was just 40 years old

A judge in Chile has found eight retired soldiers guilty of the 1973 murder of popular folk singer Victor Jara.

A ninth suspect was sentenced for his role as an accessory to Jara’s murder.

Victor Jara was arrested the day after the military coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet and taken to a sports stadium in Santiago, where he was tortured in front of other prisoners.

His body was found days later, riddled with bullets.

Soldiers had crushed his fingers, telling him he would never be able to play his guitar again. The 40-year-old singer became famous in the 1960s and 70s for his protest and pacifist songs such as The Right to Live in Peace.

A member of Chile’s Communist Party, he was a strong supporter of socialist President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by Gen Pinochet on 11 September 1973.

A picture of Victor Jara marching at a pro-Allende rally in 1973.Victor Jara (first from right) was an activist as well as a singer-songwriter

More than 3,000 people were killed or disappeared during the 17 years of Gen Pinochet’s rule.

Drawn-out legal battle

Victor Jara was one of about 5,000 people arrested in the immediate aftermath of the coup who were taken to the Chile stadium in the capital.

Those who survived the ordeal recounted how the singer was interrogated and tortured, with soldiers stepping on his hands and smashing them with a rifle butt.

Grave of Victor Jara, main graveyard of Santiago.Victor Jara was one of Chile’s most famous singer-songwriters and is remembered fondly by many

His body was found riddled with 44 bullets a few days after his disappearance. It had been dumped alongside that of Littre Quiroga Carvajal, a fellow communist who at the time was director of prisons.

Eight of the former military officers on trial were sentenced to 15 years each for the murder of the two men and three more years for kidnapping them.

The ninth was given five years for his role as an accessory to Jara’s and Quiroga’s murders.

The sentence comes two years after a jury in the US state of Florida found former Chilean army officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos liable for Jara’s murder.

The Florida jury awarded Jara’s family $28m (£21m) in damages. Chile has been seeking his extradition from the US but so far without success.

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