Australia detains nanny over alleged Pinochet-era crimes

A military coup in Chile in June 1973 led to a regime that presided over thousands of murders, tortures and forced disappearances. (AFP pic)

SYDNEY: Australia has arrested a nanny living in the country for more than three decades, officials said Wednesday, after Chile requested her extradition on allegations of Pinochet-era kidnapping and torture.

Adriana Rivas, a Chilean citizen, was previously arrested in Chile in 2007 during a return to the country, but escaped back to Australia in 2010 while she was on bail, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

It is alleged she worked in dictator Augusto Pinochet’s feared intelligence services, in the 1970s.

Rivas, who is in her 60s, was detained on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Australia’s attorney general office said, adding she “is wanted to face prosecution in the Republic of Chile for aggravated kidnapping offences”.

US-backed Pinochet, who died in 2006, toppled a democratically elected president and presided over thousands of murders, tortures and forced disappearances as Latin America was ravaged by Cold War-fuelled violence.

Chile requested Rivas’ extradition in 2014 from Sydney, where she has been working part-time as a nanny and a cleaner in the city’s Bondi suburb.

In a 2013 interview with Australian broadcaster SBS, Rivas claimed she was innocent, but defended the use of torture in Chile at the time.

“They had to break the people – it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile,” she said.

More than 3,000 regime opponents and alleged collaborators were killed or went missing during Pinochet’s rule, according to researchers at Chile’s Diego Portales University. Nearly 40,000 were tortured.

Rivas was scheduled to appear in a Sydney court Wednesday.