Ex-Pinochet agent Adriana Rivas denied bail

Protesters gather outside a Sydney court demanding the extradition of ex-Pinochet agent Adriana Rivas, who is wanted in Chile for alleged human rights abuses. Photo: National Campaign for Truth and Justice in Chile (Australia).

The following statement was released by the National Campaign for Truth and Justice in Chile (Australia) on June 27. 

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After reviewing the evidence presented by Adriana Rivas’ barrister, Frank Santisi, and the response of barrister Trent Glover, appearing for the Chilean government, magistrate Margaret Quinn rejected Rivas’ request for bail on June 27, determining that she must remain in custody until her extradition request hearing. 

During an earlier bail hearing Rivas had criticised the Chilean government for taking many years to commence its extradition request. She also argued that there is an amnesty law in place in Chile which might prevent Chilean courts from prosecuting Pinochet-era agents involved in human right violations.

Rivas also pointed to a number of health reasons for which she needed medical attention and said that she had commenced an appeal in Australia against the Attorney General’s decision to accept the extradition request, and in Chile against the courts for bringing up these charges. 

Rivas has repeatedly denied the charges and argued that the above factors made this an extraordinary case for which bail was necessary. 

Quinn found that none of these factors constituted special, extraordinary or exceptional circumstances to grant bail.

During the earlier hearing, Glover concisely and strongly disagreed with Rivas’ arguments, asserting that there was nothing unusual about the process applicable to this extradition case and that there is a presumption against bail in extradition cases. Glover also stated that Rivas had failed to present any evidence pointing to special circumstances, questioning the strength or relevance of the medical evidence Rivas presented and asserting that arguments to do with delay, or her guilt or innocence, are not relevant to this bail application. 

Quinn found that Rivas had not shown that her health would be detrimentally compromised if she remained in jail and that there were sufficient medical services available to her in the correctional facilities, if required. 

Quinn’s ruling is in line with previous decisions by Australian courts in extradition matters, including those of the High Court.

Rivas is wanted for the aggravated kidnapping of seven victims in 1976. There is evidence that the victims were assassinated by National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agents at the Simon Bolivar barracks in Santiago, where Rivas worked. 

Some of Rivas’ co-defendants have already been sentenced for these charges. Rivas’ trial is pending.

The seven victims are: Victor Díaz, Fernando Navarro, Lincoyan Berrios, Horacio Cepeda, Fernando Ortiz, Hector Veliz and Reinalda Pereira, who was six months pregnant when kidnapped and later killed. 

From Chile, Maria Luisa Ortiz, whose father was brutally tortured and killed by members of the Lautaro Brigade to which Rivas allegedly belonged, spoke for the families of the seven victims. Ortiz said: "We are pleased that bail was refused and hope that this extradition request proceeds in a speedy manner, with no further delays. 

"It has been 43 years since our family members were disappeared by DINA agents and Adriana Rivas must be brought before the Chilean courts. We seek truth and justice; we owe this to our family members who were victims of atrocious crimes."

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