Sixty seven air force officers and men went on trial in the Chilean capital, Santiago, on Wednesday (17 April) at the start of a major purge of the armed forces.
GV EXTERIOR Troops on guard outside war academy
CU War academy sign ZOOM OUT SV Guards on patrol
SV Guards check civilians passes (2 shots)
LV Civilians pass through entrance into war academy watched by guards
LV Soldier on guard in academy grounds (shot though fence)
SV Relatives arriving at academy
SCU Soldier checks passes
SCU Weeping relative turned away
GV Soldiers and relatives outside academy gate
Initials SC/057 SC/125
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Background: Sixty seven air force officers and men went on trial in the Chilean capital, Santiago, on Wednesday (17 April) at the start of a major purge of the armed forces.
The trial -- in which the prosecution has requested six death penalties -- opened at the Air Force Academy in a wealthy outlying suburb of Santiago -- Las Condes.
The officers and men are accused of having collaborated with the parties of the socialist coalition which supported Dr. Salvador Allende, or of having accepted posts in Dr. Allende's government.
The six facing death sentences have all been charged with high treason. The rest face sentences ranging from three to thirty years.
The defence layers are expected to argue that their clients cannot be tried under the terms of the state of "internal war" declared by the military junta after the coup against Dr. Allende. All the charges relate to alleged offences before the state of "internal war" was declared.
The trial opened amid fierce criticism by the Roman Catholic Church, the formerly powerful Christian Democratic party, and prestigious Chilean lawyers.
One member of the conservative National Party, ex-Senator Francisco Bulnes accused the military junta of administering what he called "Draconian" justice.
A trial of army officers -- in which another six death penalties have been requested -- has been postponed indefinitely.
The junta has maintained a strict silence about the trials, and the government-controlled press has not mentioned them. Foreign newsmen have reported that most Chileans are unaware of the trials.