Chile – A Soldier in the Disappeared confesses

A 62-year-old army veteran has been arrested after a man called a radio talk show and confessed to taking part in 18 killings during the former Chilean dictatorship’s so-called dirty war against leftists during the 1970s.

Police on Friday arrested former conscript to Guillermo Reyes Rammsy, identifying him as the man who made an emotional 25-minute call to a radio program this week. A judge placed him under house arrest.

During the program, the caller who gave his name as “Alberto” recounted taking several people to the desert, shooting them in the head and blowing them up. He said “not even their shadow was left.”

“Have you heard where the disappeared are?” the caller asked. “Nobody has told you where the disappeared are … Well, it’s because they aren’t. They are totally disintegrated. Nothing remained.”

Tens of thousands of suspected leftists were rounded up and tortured after Gen. Augusto Pinochet led a 1973 coup that toppled elected Socialist President Salvador Allende. The government says more than 3,000 of those were killed, including some 1,200 “disappeared,” people whose remains were never found.

The confession came as an unexpected political detour during a radio show, hosted by Roberto Artiagoitia, that generally focuses on personal anecdotes, some humorous, some serious. “Alberto” began his call saying he was calling about a story of love.

He said he’d been a young hippie when drafted and was sent off to kill, saying there was nothing else he could do. He acknowledged feeling complex emotions about the past.

He said that at first “one acted out of evil, and afterward you caught on that you liked it, and you went crazy. You fought with that feeling,” he said.

The caller said he’d written about some of his experiences in a blog that was posted in 2007. But it apparently attracted little notice.

Sen. Isabel Allende, daughter of the late president, said her Socialist Party would back the official investigation into the case. At least two of those killed were members of her party, Freddy Taberna Gallegos and German Palomino Lamas.

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