Photo: Victor Jara
The Center for Justice and Accountability (“CJA”) and pro-bono counsel Chadbourne & Parke, LLP (“Chadbourne”) today announced that they have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members of Chilean folk singer and social icon Victor Jara, who was imprisoned, tortured and executed in Chile during the early days of the brutal military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet on September 11, 1973.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nunez (“Barrientos”), a current resident of Deltona, Florida and a former officer in the Chilean Army under Pinochet.
The complaint alleges that Barrientos personally tortured and executed Mr. Jara during the mass detention of thousands of intellectuals, political leaders and perceived political supporters of the Allende government at Chile Stadium immediately after the coup. The case against Barrientos includes claims of torture; extrajudicial killing; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; crimes against humanity and arbitrary detention.
Victor Jara was a popular Chilean singer, songwriter, university professor and political activist who advocated for social and economic equality in Chile. Mr. Jara was detained immediately following the coup on September 11, 1973, during the Chilean Army’s siege of the State Technical University, where he was a faculty member.
From there, he and nearly 1,000 students, professors and other civilians were transferred from the University and imprisoned in Chile Stadium, one of the first mass detention centers in the Pinochet military dictatorship. Many of these civilians were brutally tortured and subsequently murdered for suspicion of opposition to the new military regime.
According to the complaint, Mr. Jara was repeatedly tortured by soldiers under Barrientos’ command. The complaint further alleges that Barrientos ultimately shot Mr. Jara point blank in the head and then ordered soldiers under his command to repeatedly shoot Mr. Jara’s corpse. An autopsy later revealed that Mr. Jara was shot at least forty times.
Barrientos was Lieutenant and Section Commander in the “Tejas Verdes,” a particularly notorious group within the Chilean Army responsible for torturing and killing perceived political opponents of the military dictatorship. He fled Chile and was discovered in the United States in 2012.