SANTIAGO – The daughter of late former President Eduardo Frei Montalva said Friday that the investigation to determine whether her father was murdered has brought to light the role of the Chilean army in concealing information about the death.
Frei Montalva, who governed from 1964-1970, died Jan. 22, 1982, at a Santiago clinic, ostensibly from an infection that developed after he underwent two operations to alleviate severe acid reflux.
But many suspected that Frei, a Christian Democrat then organizing opposition to the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was poisoned by agents of the junta’s ruthless secret police.
A decade ago, Frei Montalva’s children, Carmen Frei and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, who served as president from 1994-2000, persuaded the courts to open an investigation into their father’s death.
Judge Alejandro Madrid is poised to formally indict six people for the murder of Frei Montalva.
The judge “has given us new reports and the information is truly very significant,” Carmen Frei said Friday in an interview with Radio Cooperativa.
The military continues to hold microfilm records of reports based on wiretapping and surveillance of her father during the 1973-1990 dictatorship, the former senator said.
“We know, from judicial testimony, that this information exists and we want to know where it is,” Carmen Frei said.
Dr. Patricio Silva, a career army physician; Raul Lillo Gutierrez, a civilian who worked for military intelligence; and Luis Becerra Arriagada, one-time chauffeur and aide to Frei Montalva, are accused of direct involvement in the murder.
A physician associated with military intelligence, Pedro Valdivia Soto, faces indictment as an accomplice, while the pathologists who carried out the original autopsy, Helmar Rosenberg and Sergio Gonzalez, are alleged to have covered up the murder.
Judge Madrid declared the death a homicide after Frei Montalva’s remains were exhumed and tests found toxic substances.
One of the physicians facing charges told the judge under oath that he made daily reports to Pinochet’s office about Frei Montalva’s condition, Carmen Frei said.
Pinochet, who died in December 2006 of a heart attack, was never tried for the crimes of his government, which killed more than 3,000 people and tortured some 25,000 others.
The fate of some of those who were “disappeared” during Pinochet’s rule remains unknown to this day.
“It has been a very painful time,” Carmen Frei said. “I will fight to the end, until we know the whole truth, because justice is not only for my family but for the entire country and for all those who don’t know where their loved ones are.”