Chilean singer’s alleged killer extradited, 50 years later
Santiago du Chili, Chile — A retired Chilean soldier accused of torturing and killing beloved folk singer Victor Jara 50 years ago at the start of the country’s military dictatorship, was extradited from the United States Friday to stand trial at home.
Pedro Barrientos, 75, arrived in Chile after being expelled from the United States, where he had been living for 34 years.
He was stripped of his US citizenship after it was found he had lied to migration services.
Police told AFP he arrived in Santiago Friday on a regular American Airlines flight from Miami.
Jara, 40, was arrested the day after the September 11, 1973 CIA-backed coup that overthrew Salvador Allende and installed Augusto Pinochet as dictator.
Jara’s body was found days later, riddled with 44 bullets. He had been held, along with around 5,000 other political prisoners, in a sports stadium where he was interrogated, tortured and then killed.
A Florida court in 2016 declared Barrientos liable for Jara’s torture and murder as part of a civil lawsuit filed by the singer’s family, which was then awarded $28 million.
He was arrested in Florida last month. Chile has been seeking his extradition since 2013.
After landing in Santiago, Barrientos was taken by helicopter to a military facility where bystanders changed “Murderer, murderer!” as he disembarked in cuffs.
One of Chile’s most beloved folk singers, Jara became an icon for hundreds of artists who suffered human rights violations under Pinochet, and inspired artists including U2, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
The pacifist singer, whose lyrics spoke of love and social protest, became an icon of Latin American popular music with songs like “The Right to Live in Peace,” “The Cigarette” and “I remember Amanda.”
Barrientos’ arrest came just weeks after Chile’s Supreme Court sentenced seven retired military officers to up to 25 years in prison for Jara’s kidnapping and murder.
One of them, an 85-year-old, committed suicide rather than going to jail.
Jara’s British-born widow Joan, a human rights activist, died earlier this month aged 96.