Pinochet-Contreras Cross Examination
Operation Colombo



November 23, 2005

Reprinted from an article in La Tercera by Hector Cossio.
Translation by Memoria y Justicia.

During the cross examination Judge Victor Montiglio conducted on Friday, November 18 at the Military Club in Lo Curro, Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Contreras each claimed the other held responsibility for repressive actions the DINA committed from 1974-1977. The proceeding stems from Operation Colombo case, in which Judge Montiglio must rule shortly. After Augusto Pinochet claimed to have removed the DINA chief because he offered to deposit money abroad, which infuriated Manuel Contreras.

In this excerpt from the cross-examination transcript, Pinochet apologizes with the completely lucid excuse, "I got confused and I came out with that nonsense that had no basis in reality." Contreras accepts his apology.

AP: Augusto Pinochet MC: Manuel Contreras VM: Victor Montiglio

VM: Do you recognize the person who is present here?

AP: Yes, I know the person who is sitting in front of me. He is General Manuel Contreras. VM: Do you maintain your statement that general Pinochet commissioned you to carry out a study that led to the creation of the National Intelligence Directorate?

MC: When my general was assistant director of the War Academy and I was professor of intelligence, I was asked to study how to organize a National Intelligence Office, which did not exist in the country. My general received that work. That is why later he remembered it and ordered me to present the Government Junta my proposal to create a National Intelligence Directorate. This I did and the proposal was approved November 12, 1973.

AP: I do no recall but it is quite possible that it happened in the way General Contreras has described.

VM: Do you ratify your statement that general Pinochet was the direct leader of the DINA, as Army commander in chief, president of the Government Junta and later as President Republic?

MC: I maintain my statements with one modification. It was not in his capacity as commander in chief of the Army because the DINA did not come under the Army. At first it came under the Government Junta and later under the President of the Republic. The President was General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

(Contreras hands a photocopy of Decree Law 521, which created the DINA, to Pinochet who examines it.)

AP: I was never the direct chief of the DINA. The DINA came under the Junta, as the decree indicates.

(Contreras shows Pinochet a document in which the president of the Government Junta certifies that "lieutenant colonel Manuel Contreras Sepulveda is his delegate for conducting procedures before various autonomous public agencies.")

AP: That document implies that all agencies must lend support and resolve what he requests.

MC: In the Army the official delegate represents the chief.

VM: Do you maintain your statement to the effect that as director of the DINA you were accountable exclusively to general Pinochet for all the work conducted by the DINA?

MC: That is so. I must add that when I refer to "exclusively," I mean that I informed him in person or in writing through a daily informational bulletin that I also presented to the other Junta members. Only exceptionally did I personally inform the other Junta members, when they called me.

AP: I do not remember well. But I seem to recall that he informed me personally and also the other Junta members by the bulletin in order not to repeat the same thing before the other four of the Junta.

VM: Do you maintain your statement that the DINA never conducted any activity that was not ordered or informed properly and timely fashion to general Pinochet, as that organization, by law, had a hierarchical and disciplined structure?

MC: I maintain my statements. Everything the DINA did and not just what is charged.

VM: Do you maintain your statement to the effect that in regards to human rights violations, your superior officer, general Pinochet, has kept permanently silent and has never come to the DINA�s defense?

MC: I maintain my statements.

AP: I would have had to devote all my time to the DINA and devote my time only to it. In regards to defending the DINA, what should I defend, if I had no knowledge of its activities? And the person in charge was general Contreras.

MC: I carried out what the President of the Republic ordered me to do.

AP: I do not remember anything of what Contreras is talking about.

VM: Do you maintain your statement that general Pinochet is responsible for any unlawful actions related to human rights violations because he held responsibility as chief?

MC: I am saying that the President, as the immediate superior officer of the DINA, should have been accountable for everything the DINA is accused of committing, which are unlawful actions that are untrue. Besides, neither the President nor I ever ordered such actions, which are nothing more than proof of hatred and vengeance as well as reprisals taken before the Courts by means of false witnesses who the Investigations Fifth Department have trained to raise false testimony and lie.

AP: I was not the immediate superior officer of the DINA. The immediate superior was the Government Junta, as stated in D.L. 521.

MC: As I said previously, D.L. 521 that created the DINA, established that the DINA would be answer to the Government Junta, but that was when the Junta was the Executive Branch. But in late June 1974 that passed to hands of General Augusto Pinochet.

VM: Why were you dismissed as director of DINA?

MC: I was never dismissed. On August 12,1977 the DINA terminated by a law. And on that same day, a law created the CNI, which continued its mandate until November 3, 1977, date when I was promoted to the rank of general. My general Pinochet called me gave me a new assignment to the Army Engineers Command.

VM: Why did DINA cease to exist?

MC: I had a long conversation with the President, who said the DINA had fulfilled its mission. The country was calm and it was proper to create a new intelligence agency with different authority, for example, it had the prohibition against arresting people and it came under the Interior Ministry.

AP: In regards to General Contreras leaving the position, I must correct myself. I misspoke, I got confused and I came out with that nonsense that has no basis in reality, in saying that he was fired because he had offered to deposit money abroad. That is false and is due to a slip of memory because my head is failing me. Especially after these two weeks of questioning. This is intended as an explanation to general Contreras.

MC: I understand what my general is saying and I completely accept his excuses. I understand that it is a memory problem.

"There were 32,000 terrorists in Chile."

AP: I am saying that general Contreras, as service chief was responsible for what the DINA did. He is responsible for what was done by the DINA. How could I be responsible? I could only have indirect responsibility. Because if the chief asks the intelligence service about something, it is the chief asking. Now, as service chief, how he will obtain that information is his problem.

MC: I base my statement on what is said in article 1 of D.L. N521 regarding the mission that the National Intelligence service would have. VM to Contreras: Do you agree that one of the objectives of DINA was to attack terrorist organizations and therefore these would be considered enemies?

MC: That statement is absurd. Protection of national security was one of the missions that the President of the Republic gave us with greatest emphasis. He gave us orders that under no circumstances should these be considered political institutions. We were facing 32,000 terrorists from 43 countries around the world in addition to more than 21,000 Chilean terrorists, y absolutely no one in the DINA had met a terrorist, when we had come into action in April 1974. Never were we ever ordered to attack terrorists so they were unknown to us and it took us years to understand their structure. In addition articles 8 and 9 of D.L. N 521 through the Arms Control Law and state of siege authority permitted us to arrest terrorists and turn them over to the President of the Republic and the Interior Ministry to send them to prisoner camps. Proof of that are the decrees that I exhibit before the court.

Lastly, I would like to add that the DINA participated in more 100 urban combats in which agents were attacked by terrorists and would have to kill or else be killed in action. In 43 urban combats 80 terrorists fell who are considered as combat deaths and were turned over as NN to the Medical Forensic Institute, according to the list of disappeared persons whose final destination I presented to the courts.

AP: I do not remember. I never got involved in those things, not out of cowardliness but because I did not know about them.

"If the DINA files were burned, it must have been Mena who ordered it."

Judge Victor Montiglio asks where the DINA files are.

Manuel Contreras: I had two hours on November 3, 1977 to turn over DINA to general Odlanier Mena, with Interior Minister general Cesar Raul Benavides serving as intermediary. As stated previously, it is not my responsibility if DINA files do not exist. Besides, Law 18.771, on January 17, 1989 called for maintaining documents for five years on account of national defense.

V.M: According to Army lieutenant colonel (retired) Eduardo Guy Neckelmann Schultz you ordered that part of the DINA files be destroyed.

M.C.: I did not order because I had two hours to turn over the Directorate, as I had been ordered. Besides lieutenant colonel Guy Neckelmann has a Medical Forensic Institute certificate that states he is crazy. Second, general Mena lies and in fact if the DINA files were burned, it must have been he who ordered it. He always acted in bad faith. The President ordered him to go to Punta Arenas to talk to me and brigadier Pedro Espinoza, to get Espinoza to confess as author of the assassination of Orlando Letelier.




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