French court convicts 13 Pinochet-era officials

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PARIS (AP) — A French court has convicted 13 former officials who served under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for roles in the disappearance of four French nationals. It sentenced two to life in prison.

One suspect was acquitted. All 14 of the defendants were tried in absentia, making the case highly symbolic.

Friday’s ruling went beyond the request of the state prosecutor who had sought 20-year prison terms for three of the defendants and 15 years for the remaining 11.

The two sentenced to life in prison are Juan Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, who at the time headed Pinochet’s political police, and Octavio Espinoza Bravo, an army colonel.

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