Pisagua Case:
Julio Cesar Cabezas Gacitua



Married and father of four children, in 1965 Julio Cabezas Gacitua initiated his a career as assistant prosecutor for the Iquique State Defense Council. In 1968 President Eduardo Frei appointed him State Defense Council Prosecutor, the position he held at the time of his arrest. His work involved supervision and monitoring of government administrative and judicial offices of the province of Iquique.

As Comptroller of Iquique, Julio Cabezas undertook an investigation of a blackmarket ring in which food products from Iquique were traded in Bolivia, nurturing in form of cocaine traffic to Iquique. Cabezas discovered that prominent Iquique businessmen had connections to the contraband and drug trafficking enterprise through bonds of friendship with certain court officials, including Iquique Appeals Court judges. Evidence indicated that Lower Court Judge Mario Acuna Riquelme was also involved in the illegal enterprise.

The Police Intelligence Brigade's Report of December 1, 1999 prepared for the Santiago Court of Appeals concerning the death of Julio Cesar Cabezas indicates:

"As Mr. Julio Cabezas was conducting this investigation and became aware of the involvement of certain judicial officials, altercations arose with Lower Court Judge Mr. Mario Acuña Riquelme, who repeatedly prevented Cabeza's staff from entering the court building. On more than one occasion Julio Cabezas had to file an injunction with the Iquique Court of Appeals due to the legal obstacles implemented by the judge."

Upon concluding the investigation, the Supreme Court was informed of the situation. The high court of Chile appointed a Special Investigative Judge who confirmed the denunciations Julio Cabezas had formulated. The Supreme Court took disciplinary measures including the removal of two judges from the Iquique Court of Appeals. It also suspended Mario Acuña Riquelme from his judgeship.

Following the military coup, Mario Acuña Riquelme was appointed Military Prosecutor for the Army's Sixth Division.

Immediately after the coup, the communications media announced Military Edicts ("bandas militares"), demanding that lists of persons present themselves before the new military authorities, "under orders to shoot at the slightest sign of resistance. " Julio Cabezas Gacitua was one of 57 persons Edict N. 6, of September 14, 1973, ordered to report to the Army's Sixth Division Garrison Command.

Julio Cabezas voluntarily presented himself before military officials. He was immediately placed under arrest and taken, first, to the Telecommunications Regiment. From there he was transferred to the Pisagua Prisoners of War Camp.

A War Council accused him of treason and he was executed October 11, 1973. Military Edict N. 82 announced the execution, but the body of Julio Cabezas was not returned to his family. In June 1990 his mummified remains were found in a mass grave on the northwestern side of the Pisagua cemetery and recognized by his family.

The same police report reached the following conclusion:

"...the failure to establish credible political reasons for the arrest and execution by firing squad of Cabezas Gacitua, leads the investigation to presume with reason that the events in question may be attributed to an act of vengeance by Mario Acuña Riquelme, who had been accused of criminal actions by the victim as Iquique Prosecutor. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that on the same day Cabezas was shot, two other persons who had also participated in the investigation of the contraband ring, were also executed. These were Jose Cordoba and Mario Morris, a Customs official. "


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