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LATIN AMERICA | 06-06-2023 21:47

Chile doctor convicted of Pinochet-era crimes arrested at Ezeiza Airport

Fugitive Manfredo Enrique Jurgensen arrested at Ezeiza International Airport moments before he boarded a flight to Germany; Chilean doctor convicted of crimes during Pinochet dictatorship could now be extradited.

A Chilean fugitive from justice convicted of crimes committed during the August Pinochet (1973-1990) dictatorship has been arrested in Argentina moments before he was set to fly to Germany.

Doctor Manfredo Enrique Jurgensen Caesar, 79, faces eight years in prison for co-authoring the murder of a professor in 1979. He was arrested at Argentina’s Ezeiza International Airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday as he waited to board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.

Jurgensen had been a fugitive from justice since mid-January. The doctor, who also has German nationality, was attempting to leave Argentina on a German passport. His identity was flagged by migration officials, who then sought his detention.

Jurgensen reportedly fainted upon being confronted and was admitted to a local hospital, where he is still being held at the request of federal judge Ernesto Kreplak, who is analysing an extradition request from Chile, airport sources told the AFP news agency.

Argentina’s Airport Security Police (PSA) on Tuesday released a mugshot of the elderly Chilean in custody. Sources quoted by the Pagina/12 newspaper said that he had suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest but was recovering. 

Paola Plaza González, a human rights judge at the Santiago Court of Appeals, has already requested Jurgensen's extradition to Argentina, Chile's Judiciary said in a statement issued Monday. The accused’s fragile health situation could now delay the process. 

Last January 5, the Chilean Supreme Court increased Jurgensen's sentence from three to eight years in prison. He was previously convicted for co-authoring the murder of professor Federico Álvarez Santibáñez, a 32-year-old activist member of the Revolutionary Left Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria, MIR).

Álvarez Santibáñez died on August 21, 1979, after being tortured for five days straight while being held at a barracks of the Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI), the intelligence agency during the Pinochet dictatorship. 

During those days of detention, Álvarez Santibáñez was examined by three CNI doctors who certified that he was in good health, one of whom was Jurgensen.

Security officers, realising Álvarez Santibáñez was close to death, attempted to return Álvarez Santibáñez to military prosecutors, but the victim’s life expired within hours.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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