German President Joachim Gauck gave a joint press conference with his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet following their meeting in Santiago, Tuesday.
Among other topics discussed during the meeting, was the German move to declassify its files on Colonia Dignidad, a former secretive German settlement in Chile led by a former Nazi who oversaw daily torture and abuse.
Bachelet stressed Gauck's "strong commitment to historical memory and human rights." "The analysis and study of the files found in Colonia Dignidad and complaints filed by relatives and victims who were in Colonia Dignidad, will help judges to work on it. Chile will continue to cooperate closely with Germany," added Bachelet.
Gauck stated that "the German Foreign Ministry is conducting activities aimed at opening files prematurely, which will allow us to close this dark chapter, Paul Schafer and his Colonia Dignidad."
Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony, was a German commune founded in 1961 by a former Nazi soldier and convicted pedophile Paul Schafer and a group of German immigrants in a remote part of Chile, some 400 kilometres south of Santiago. The isolated settlement was allegedly used as a torture site by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. According to estimates, thousands of people were reportedly sexually abused over 30 years before a series of lawsuits were brought against Schafer in 1997. He fled to Argentina and was arrested in 2005, before being sentenced to 33 years in prison on charges of the sexual abuse of children. He died in jail in 2010.
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