|from That Would be the Day|
Friday, March 11, 2005 - 13:28
I read on Yahoo news the headline "Fugitive Cult Leader Arrested in Argentina" and I crossed my fingers. Well, not quite, but maybe nex time it will be?
"Former Nazi captured in Argentina, faces child sex charges
Fri Mar 11, 9:04 AM ET
Entertainment - AFP
BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - A former German Nazi soldier turned Chilean sect leader has been arrested in Argentina and will face child sex abuse charges.
Paul Schaefer, 83, was detained Thursday in a joint operation between Argentine and Chilean police in the small town of Tortuguitas west of Buenos Aires.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer Friday hailed the arrest and said he hoped it would shed light on the alleged abuse at the secretive Colonia Dignidad community in the mountains of southern Chile.
Schaefer had been in hiding since a warrant for his arrest on multiple counts of pedophilia was issued in August 1996.
Former members of the cult have testified that Schaefer systematically abused young children in the colony, many of whom were taken from their parents at birth.
Schaefer was convicted of the charges in absentia in November 2004 along with 22 other Dignidad members.
Fischer said: "The arrest of Paul Schaefer is good news.
"His arrest will allow a comprehensive investigation into all the criminal activities in the former Colonia Dignidad to be carried out and punishments to be handed down.
"The Chilean and German authorities have charged Schaefer with serious crimes, including false imprisonment and sexual abuse of minors," he added in a statement.
Chilean President Ricardo Lagos also expressed his satisfaction at the arrest.
Argentine Police Commissioner Alejandro Dinisio told AFP that Schaefer carried no identification documents and refused to speak as he was arrested. Dinisio said police had been on Schaefer's trail for six months.
Television reporters mobbed Schaefer as the elderly suspect, handcuffed but smiling, was pushed in his wheelchair into a provincial police station. Officials said he could be transferred to Buenos Aires Friday.
To speed up Schaefer's departure, the Chilean interior minister asked his Argentine counterpart to kick him out of Argentina and avoid going to court to ask for an extradition, which could delay the case with appeals.
A former corporal and medic in the Nazi army, Schaefer fled Germany to Chile in 1961 to avoid child sexual abuse charges.
He and other German immigrants established the community in the mountains near the city of Parral, some 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of Santiago.
Surrounded by barbed and electrified wire and protected by barricades, the community adhered to a strict regime devised by Schaefer and remained cut off from the rest of the world.
The colony still exists, but has been renamed Villa Baviera in a bid to shake off its past. Around 300 people, mainly Germans, still live there.
Chilean officials also want to question Schaefer in connection with torture during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (news - web sites).
Investigators say that political prisoners, including former leftist leader Alvaro Vallejos Villagran -- arrested by Pinochet's agents in May 1974 -- vanished after being sent to Colonia Dignidad.
A former member of Pinochet's secret police has said he knew Vallejos Villagran was taken alive to Dignidad.
Police also want to question Schaefer about the 1985 disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler, an American Jewish mathematics professor of Russian origin.
Investigators believe Weisfeiler was picked up by a military border patrol while he was backpacking in the region. Suspected of being a spy, he was sent to Dignidad.
Weisfeiler's sister Olga said Dignidad residents reported seeing him alive up to two years later.
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