16 Apr 2015

Florida trial over Victor Jara's death

6:45 pm on 16 April 2015

A United States judge has ordered a former Chilean army officer to stand trial in Florida in connection with the killing of folk singer Victor Jara in 1973.

A portrait of Victor Jara, a Chilean folk singer killed in the wake of General Pinochet's 1973 coup.

Chilean folk singer Victor Jara Photo: AFP

The folk singer and political activist was among thousands of people rounded up by the army when General Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile in 1973.

They were held at a football stadium in Santiago where many were tortured and killed.

The former army officer is Pedro Barrientos Nunez, who has US citizenship and lives in Florida. He will answer charges of torture and extrajudicial killing.

He was tortured and shot dead.

The law suit against Mr Barrientos was brought by Jara's widow Joan and his daughter Amanda.

"We are... pleased that the Jara family is one step closer to having their day in court," said Almudena Bernabeu, a lawyer representing the family.

But Ms Bernabeu said it was "disappointing" the US judge dismissed a bid by the family to have Mr Barrientos prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

Jara was a well-known figure in Chile during the 60s and 70s. He wrote protest songs about Chile's ruling elite and was a supporter of the President Salvador Allende, who died during the coup.

More than 3000 people were killed or went missing during military rule in Chile, from 1973 to 1990.

Victor Jara's body was exhumed in 2009 and later reburied, with thousands of Chileans paying their respects.

Several other former army officers have faced trial over his killing in Chile.

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