Former Pinochet secret police agent Adriana Rivas arrested in Sydney

A protester outside Sydney Town Hall holds a placard calling for the extradition of Adriana Rivas.

The following statement was released by the Australian-based National Campaign for Truth & Justice in Chile on February 19.

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After years of eluding justice, notorious Chilean torturer Adriana Rivas has finally been arrested and her extradition request by the Chilean state accepted by Australian authorities.

Rivas was arrested in Sydney today and was due to appear before the Local Court this afternoon.

In 2014, Chile’s Supreme Court issued an extradition order for Rivas, a Chilean national who moved to Sydney in 1978. The court was unanimous in its decision to make the request as it involved allegations of crimes against humanity.

While Rivas worked as a nanny for much of her time in Australia, her prior endeavours were very different: she served as a principal assistant to Manuel Contreras, the former head of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s secret police force, the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA).

Rivas is wanted for the aggravated kidnapping of seven victims in 1976, all of whom disappeared after undergoing vicious torture sessions.

There is evidence to suggest that they were assassinated by DINA agents who worked with Rivas. Some of her co-conspirators in these heinous crimes have been sentenced in Chile, and Rivas’ trial is pending.

In an interview given to SBS in late 2013, Rivas stated that torture was necessary to "somehow break people's silence… [ it was] the same as what the Nazis used… It was necessary.

"The whole world does it. Silently, underground, but they do it. This is the only way to break people because psychologically there’s no method… to make you tell the truth."

Rivas was arrested in Chile in 2007 while she was visiting the country but breached her conditional bail and returned to Australia.

In 2014, an extradition request was lodged with the Australian government. Due to technicalities, that request was only accepted today.

Her arrest is a strong signal to the international community that Australia will not tolerate torturers and criminals seeking refuge in Australia, and that Australia abides by its international obligations.

Rivas will now be put on trial in Chile, something that her victims were not afforded.

The names of the seven victims are: Victor Díaz, Fernando Navarro, Lincoyan Berrios, Horacio Cepeda, Juan Fernando Ortiz, Hector Veliz and Reinalda Pereira.

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