The following statement was issued by the Australian-based National Campaign for Truth & Justice in Chile.
Adriana Rivas is a former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent living in Sydney.
DINA was Chile’s intelligence bureau during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship and is known as Pinochet’s Gestapo due to its cruelty and mass assassinations. The Lautaro Brigade was DINA’s extermination brigade.
Rivas was an operative agent in that brigade between 1974 and 1977. The Lautaro Brigade concentrated on detaining, torturing, extracting information and killing Communist Party members.
In 2013, Rivas openly boasted on SBS Radio about the use of torture against Chilean dissidents: “Everyone knew they had to do that to people in order to break them, because Communists would not talk: It was necessary, the same as the Nazis did, do you understand?”
Pursuant to a bilateral treaty between Australia and Chile meant to facilitate extradition, Chile requested in 2014 that Australia extradite Rivas to prosecute her for charges of aggravated kidnapping which resulted in the assassination and disappearance of 7 Chilean citizens.
Rivas was arrested in Chile in 2007 and criminal proceedings against her commenced in 2009. She then absconded to Australia in a carefully orchestrated plot.
Rivas is the co-author of the aggravated kidnapping of Victor Diaz, Fernando Navarro, Lincoyan Berrios, Horacio Cepeda, Juan Ortiz, Hector Veliz and heavily pregnant medical technologist, Reinalda Pereira.
In late 1976, they were kidnapped, savagely tortured and later killed, and their bodies made to disappear by the Lautaro Brigade. The victims were members of the Communist Party of Chile, trade union leaders, primary school teachers, public servants and regular Chilean citizens.
Chilean courts have collected dozens of eyewitness accounts, including from Rivas’ boss at the Lautaro Brigade, Capitan Morales Salgado, and from Rivas’ co-accused and former DINA agents who have already been prosecuted and sentenced on similar charges. They confirm that Rivas joined the DINA in September 1974 after training as an intelligence agent, and that she worked at the Simon Bolivar extermination barracks.
The evidence shows that Rivas kidnapped and detained victims from the streets of Santiago; that she was present during interrogation and torture sessions; that she took notes of what was said and at least on one occasion tortured a victim to the point of breaking his bones; that part of her duties were to complete shifts as a guard within the extermination centre; and as such, she observed the detainees coming in handcuffed and taken to cells, where they were tortured.
Rivas is fondly remembered by her co-accused as a “sporting and good looking woman, who liked to crack a joke”. But the cruelty exerted on victims by Rivas and her co-accused was extreme: the agents applied electric shocks throughout the body; burned them with cigarettes; punched, stabbed, slashed and cut their bodies open until they died; and strangled or killed them with sarin gas or an injection of cyanide.
Rivas’ co-accused have stated that once the victims were half dead or dead, Lautaro Brigade agents burned their fingertips, scars and faces with a blowtorch, to avoid identification if their bodies were ever found.
Lastly, the bodies were tied to iron railway sleepers and thrown into the sea, or packaged into jute bags and thrown into lime mines. Some remains were blown up to avoid detection.
The testimonies of Rivas’ co-accused confirm that all operative agents of the brigade, without exception, both men and women, had the same functions at the extermination barracks.
In her role as an operative agent and guard, Rivas was co-responsible for the final destiny of these seven victims; she actively and passively assisted in their kidnapping and resulting disappearance.
The Australian government has delayed her extradition to Chile, failing to meet its bilateral and international obligations. Australia must not and should not be a safe haven for criminals.
[The National Campaign for Truth & Justice in Chile is asking supporters to write to Minister for Justice Michael Keenan MP to request he urgently extradite Rivas. Letters can be sent to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.]