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Alvaro Miguel Barrios Duque

Alvaro Miguel Barrios Duque, a 26-year-old university student and member of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), Movement of the Revolutionary Left, had only been married a month when he was detained by members of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), Directorate of National Intelligence. He was arrested from his home in the Conchalí district of Santiago on 15th August 1974 at midday. His family witnessed the detention. Among the individuals present was a former member of the Socialist Party, Luz Arce Sandoval. Luz Arce had been arrested previously and following torture at the hands of the DINA had become a collaborator. In the testimony she gave to the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in 1990, she said that Alvaro Barrios Duque had died as a result of the list of people she had given to the DINA.

Alvaro Barrios Duque was taken out to an unmarked red truck where he was blindfolded and handcuffed by men in civilian clothes. Julio Cañas was arrested shortly after and both men were taken to Londres 38, a secret detention centre run by the DINA in the centre of Santiago. Julio Cañas was released later that day. In the evening of 15th August, Alvaro was driven home where he collected some clothing and asked for cigarettes and bread. His family reported that he seemed nervous. He told them that he had been arrested by an intelligence service and then left the home.

Later in 1976 and 1977, men in civilian clothes went to the home of an uncle of Alvaro Barrios Duque. On the first occasion, three young men told his uncle that they were looking for Alvaro because a loan company that they did not name had agreed a loan for him. The uncle told them that his nephew had ''disappeared'' two years previously and that it was strange that after such a period, a loan should recently have been approved. In 1980, the financial scandal known as the ''IVA Fraud'' case broke. The Union Trading company, run by a member of the DINA, defrauded people of millions of pesos using different papers. Among the documents were bills in the name of Alvaro Miguel Barrios Duque.

In August 1974, the 10th Criminal Court began an investigation into the "disappearance" of Alvaro Barrios. This case was subsequently among the cases taken up by the Judge Servando Jordán, the Special Investigating Judge (Ministro en Visita) appointed to investigate "disappearances" in the Santiago region. In May 1981, he passed the case to the military courts who suspended the case in July 1981. The Military Appeals Court subsequently declared the case definitively closed on the basis of the 1978 Amnesty Law.

An investigation was also begun in the 8th Criminal Court which was suspended in May 1976. In July 1996, at the request of the National Corporation for Reparation and Reconciliation, the case was reopened and a number of steps were ordered to be carried out which included calling members of the Armed Forces to testify. The military courts contested jurisdiction and in September 1997, the Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred. The case was closed soon after on the basis that the case had already been adjudicated in the proceedings initiated by the 10th Criminal Court. This decision was upheld by the Military Appeals Court in June 1998.

An appeal against this decision was presented to the Supreme Court, which proceeded to compare the two investigations that had been carried out. In the investigations conducted in the 10th Criminal Court, it had been established that unknown civilians, in collaboration with Luz Arce Sandoval and a man, Patricio Alvarez Poblete, had detained Alvaro Barrios Duque. Only Patricio Alvarez had been questioned and no one had been charged. In the second investigation, Patricio Alvarez had testified in and out of court. Luz Arce had testified out of court and mentioned the names of the DINA agents who had been involved in the detention of Alvaro Barrios, none of whom had been questioned by the military court. As a result, the Supreme Court resolved that the full facts and those responsible had not been fully identified, did not accept the assertion of former adjudication, revoked the previous decision and called for the investigation to be exhausted, determining who was responsible and the whereabouts of the victim. It also specified which former DINA agents should be called for questioning.

Source; Amnesty International – Document: AI Index: AMR 22/014/2001 dated 10 December 2001 – Titled ; CHILE - Testament to suffering and courage: the long quest for justice and truth


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