SBS language | Pinochet’s ex-agent Adriana Rivas draws closer to extradition after losing Federal Court appeal

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The plenary formation of the Federal Tribunal unanimously rejected the appeal of the former agent of the secret police of the Pinochet era, Adriana Rivas, who sought to end her extradition to Chile, where she is wanted for disappearance of seven dissidents of the regime in the 1970s.

Judge Stewart Anderson said in Wednesday’s online hearing that Rivas was “eligible for the remission” after six days of deliberations.

This is the second appeal dismissed by the Federal Court. Previous attempts in this case had taken weeks or even months of review before a decision was rendered.

Strong points:

  • The entire Federal Court bench ruled against Rivas’ appeal in less than a week.
  • The agent of the Pinochet era is wanted in Chile for the disappearance of seven dissidents of the regime in the 1970s.
  • Rivas’ defense filed 17 grounds of appeal and requested the removal of a previous order from Federal Judge Wendy Abraham, confirming that Rivas is extraditable.

The latest rejection came after the plenary session of the Federal Court heard arguments against and in favor of Rivas’ extradition to Chile last Thursday.

Rivas presented 17 grounds of appeal, seeking the overturning of a previous order of federal judge Wendy Abraham, who confirmed in June that it was extraditable.

A group of Chileans who watched the proceedings online from outside the Sydney CBD Federal Court building expressed joy and relief after hearing the decision.

Adriana Rivas in an interview with Spanish SBS journalist Florencia Melgar in 2013.

Spanish SBS

Rivas, 68, has been behind bars since his arrest in Sydney in 2019.

She is accused in Chile of having worked in the Laurato brigade, an “elite squadron” which operated in the Simón Bolívar barracks, considered a center of extermination and torture during the dictatorship.

Among the seven missing persons linked to her case were a pregnant woman and Víctor Díaz, general secretary of the Communist Party of Chile, who disappeared in 1976.

Rivas denies all charges against her. Her defense claims that although she worked at the barracks under the direction of the director of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), Manuel Contreras, General Pinochet’s second in hand, she was not aware of the activities taking place there. .

If confirmed, the charges against Rivas in Chile are considered crimes against humanity.

The arguments against his extradition

Last Thursday, Rivas’ lawyer Frank Santisi told the court that Australian magistrates had not considered that the amnesty law, enacted in Chile under the Pinochet regime in 1978 to protect those suspected of having committed human rights violations, was still valid and applicable.

“It exists in Chile and there is no law in Parliament to suppress it,” Santisi argued.

He added that Chile’s extradition request was “politically motivated”, and therefore “Australia has the right not to act in the extradition request”.

The grounds for this argument were rejected by Judge Mortimer, who said the request “would throw the extradition law into chaos”, while Judge Bromwich told Santisi that this argument was “a dead end for you. “.

In the past, Rivas’ defense has also claimed that the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) “was a government office created by law of the day”, which would be comparable to Australian intelligence agencies, such as ASIS and ASIO and, as such, it cannot be considered an illegal organization.

“It was the law created by the Junta,” Santisi said.

Australian Attorney General Representative Trent Glover rejected Santisi’s claims and said there were no errors in the presentation of the extradition request and that “the crime of aggravated kidnapping existed at the time of Rivas’ alleged conduct ”.

Judge Bromwich replied that “if the allegation constituted an offense in Australia, that would suffice. This is the business of the Chilean courts ”.

Sydney-based lawyer Adriana Navarro, who represents the families of Chilean victims in Australia, told SBS Spanish that Rivas’ guilt or innocence “would be determined in Chile according to the process followed by the courts there.” .

In a statement released Thursday, the families said they were “deeply grateful” for the work done in this process by the legal team at the Australian Attorney General’s Office and Australian Courts.

What are the next steps?

As a last resort, Rivas could still take the case to the High Court of Australia.

However, there is no automatic right to have an appeal heard by the High Court and parties wishing to appeal must persuade the court at a preliminary hearing that there are special reasons for it to do so. be heard.

The decisions of the High Court on appeal are final.

One of the conditions for being able to appeal to the High Court is that the appellant must agree to pay the defendant’s costs of the process regardless of the outcome.

In the final phase of the process, Australian Attorney General Michaelia Cash will make the extradition order final.

A previous extradition process, the case of Dragan Vasiljković, a former Serbian paramilitary leader extradited to Croatia in 2015, took nine years after his arrest in Perth.

It is not known what Rivas knew about the crimes she is accused of and to what extent she was involved. If she is extradited, these facts will have to be determined by the Chilean courts.

Rivas denies all charges against her.


The chronology of the Rivas affair

1973 – 1977: Adriana Rivas worked for Chile’s National Intelligence Directorate, DINA. During this period, she was secretary to Alejandro Burgos, assistant to Manuel Contreras, second in charge of General Pinochet.

1978: Rivas leaves Chile to start a new life in Australia with a marriage visa.

2007: Rivas is arrested in Chile while visiting her family, and is charged with the aggravated kidnapping of Víctor Díaz, Fernando Ortiz, Fernando Navarro, Lincoyán Berrios, Horacio Cepeda, Héctor Veliz and Reinalda Pereira.

2010: She illegally escapes from Chile while on parole and returns to Australia to settle in a low-rent apartment building in the Bondi district.

2013: Rivas gives an interview to Spanish SBS journalist Florencia Melgar, in which she explains how she escaped Chile across the border with Argentina, and where she defended the use of torture. Interpol issues an international arrest warrant against Rivas.

2014 : The Supreme Court of Justice of Chile requests his extradition.

February 2019: Rivas is arrested in Sydney.

June 2019: New South Wales local court magistrate Margaret Quinn rejects Rivas’ first request for bail.

November 2019: Federal Court Judge Wendy Abraham dismisses Rivas’ appeal for her release and keeps her behind bars.

April 2020: Rivas files a third bail application with the local New South Wales court, citing health concerns and the risk of contracting COVID-19 in prison.

May 2020: Magistrate Robert Williams of the local New South Wales court refuses bail. This third denial meant Rivas was scheduled to appear before his extradition hearings in prison.

June 2020: Rivas’ extradition hearing is being held at the New South Wales local court with Judge Philip Stewart.

October 2020: After four months of deliberation, Judge Stewart gives the green light for Rivas’ handover to Chile.

December 2020: Rivas is appealing to the Federal Court of Australia to seek the overturn of Judge Stewart’s decision and his release.

April 2021: The hearing takes place in the Federal Court, in which Rivas presents his case against extradition.

June 2021: After nearly two months of deliberation, New South Wales Federal Court Judge Wendy Abraham dismisses Rivas’ appeal attempting to avoid his extradition.

July 2021: Rivas brings a second appeal to the full panel of the Federal Court of Australia, hoping to overturn Judge Abraham’s ruling.

November 18, 2021: The hearing is held before the Federal Court of Australia in plenary session, composed of three judges, on appeal from Rivas.

November 24, 2021: After six days of deliberation, the plenary formation of the Federal Court rejects Rivas’ appeal and supports Judge Abraham’s decision, which must be handed over to the Chilean courts.


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