SYDNEY – A court in Australia on Tuesday postponed ruling on a bail petition filed by the defense team of a Chilean former secret police agent of the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship, who is facing extradition to her native country over kidnapping charges.
Chile had requested the extradition of Adriana Rivas in 2014 over her alleged involvement in seven kidnappings between 1974 and 1977, when she was an agent of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), or the Chilean secret police during the 1973-1990 dictatorship regime of Pinochet.
Magistrate Margaret Quinn of Sydney’s Central Local Court said that she will deliberate on Rivas’ bail application on May 24 and May 27.
“Rivas’ legal team withdrew their bail request and asked the court to hear them at the end of May,” Adriana Navarro, a lawyer of the relatives of the victims linked to the Rivas case, told EFE.
The attorney explained that if the application had not been withdrawn, the court would have ruled on it on Tuesday itself.
The delay will now allow the defense team to present the medical proof it claims to have to support its arguments.
During the hearing, defense attorney Frank Santisi mentioned the various health issues that the 66-year-old Rivas – who was arrested in Sydney on Feb.19 – was battling, including depression, problems in the bladder and kidneys, and osteoporosis.
The family members of the victims of the Rivas case “are very happy with the entire process that is being carried out here in Australia” according to Navarro, who added that “they have faith in the support of the Chilean government to continue with this extradition.”
Meanwhile, Pilar Aguilera, the representative in Australia of the National Campaign for Truth and Justice in Chile, told EFE she hopes that Rivas is extradited to Chile so that she can be subjected to a “fair trial” in her native country.
During Pinochet’s dictatorship, Rivas was the right arm of the director of the DINA, Manuel Contreras, who was one of the main figures of the Chilean dictatorship and died while serving more than 400 years in prison.
Rivas has lived for more than three decades in Australia, where she has worked as a baby sitter and a house cleaner.
In 2006, she was arrested while visiting her family in Chile, but escaped to Australia while out on bail.
According to the testimonies of those tortured during the dictatorship, Adriana Rivas was one of the most brutal during the interrogations that were conducted at the notorious Simon Bolivar Barracks, where DINA’s elite unit Lautaro Brigade, to which Rivas belonged, operated.
According to official data, during the Pinochet dictatorship, some 3,200 Chileans died at the hands of state agents, of whom 1,192 are still listed as missing, while some 33,000 were tortured and imprisoned for political reasons.