Human Rights

Former director of Carabineros arrested for torture during dictatorship

SANTIAGO – Bruno Villalobos, the former director of the Chilean Carabineros, has been arrested for a crime committed during the years of the dictatorship of Pinochet. Villalobos is charged for torturing a student, causing his death. He is the first (former) general within the Carabineros who gets prosecuted for human rights violations.

As first (former) general of the Chilean Carabineros, Bruno Villalobos will be prosecuted for his involvement in the torture of a 21-year-old student in 1985. The student, Patricio Manzano, died of his injuries.

Bruno Villalobos was the head of the Carabineros between 2015 and 2018, but resigned in the aftermath of Operation Huracán, a scandal within the police force where policemen altered evidence against Mapuche in the southern regions, such as tapped phone scripts.

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The death of Patricio Manzano

During the dictatorship, Villalobos was lieutenant in Los Andes, thus responsible for everything that happened within the local police station. Another man will be prosecuted for the same charge: the ex-commissar of Los Andes, Ruperto Soto.

In 1985, around 170 students, part of the Student Federation of the University of Chile (Fech), were arrested in San Felipe. Among them, Patricio Manzano. Those arrested were forced to carry out community work after the earthquake of 1985 destroyed parts of the town, and those arrested received beatings from the Carabineros guarding them.

Manzano died as a result of a cardiac arrest due to his beatings, at 21 years old. Bruno Villalobos is being charged for the fact that he knew about the tortures going on, without trying to stop them.

National media describe the prosecution of Villalobos as historic, as it’s the first time a Carabineros director, appointed during the democracy, is being charged with crimes committed during the dictatorship.

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