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Paul Schäfer, founder of Colonia Dignidad, dies at 88

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paul Schäfer died at 88 from cardiac-respiratory arrest on early Saturday morning in a Chilean prison hospital. Schäfer was the founder and former leader of Colonia Dignidad, an enclave used for torturing and exterminating political prisoners during Augusto Pinochet‘s dictatorship. Hr was convicted for sexually abusing 26 children for years, and retained thousands of people under his own tyrannical regime, that worked as an aside territory in the country, where people spoke the German language.

Jorge Zepeda, magistrate who investigated the crimes made in Colonia Dignidad, reported that Schäfer was unconscious when he died. He was to stay in prison for 33 years. Hernán Fernández, one of the lawyers against Colonia Dignidad, said that Schäfer’s death should help to accelerate the judiciary processes. Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera said, “Paul Schäfer will be judged by the divine justice.”

Schäfer was born in 1921, in Siegburg, Germany. He was a non-commissioned Nazi officer, who moved to Chile after the Second World War, evading accusations of sexual abuse of minors. He established an organization in a rural area of Chile, in favour of the poor people, located 400 kilometers south of Santiago, to the border of Argentina. He named this place Villa Babiera.

He began his rule of this area in 1961; he established a private tyrannical regime, where almost 300 Germans worked for decades without pay. Men and women were segregated, and people who tried to escape were killed. Adults and children considered it an “honour” for Schäfer to chose to have sex with them.

When Pinochet’s regime ended, Schäfer escaped from Chile in 1996 to avoid being imprisoned, after he came under investigation for human rights violations and abuse to minors. He was detained in Argentina, and then extradited back to Chile in 2005. Since then he was imprisoned. Colonia Dignidad still exists, though without the power they had before, less secluded and with new leaders.

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