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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 December 2005, 01:01 GMT
German charged over 'Chile abuse'
Residents of Colonia Dignidad
Colonia Dignidad was founded in 1961
A German woman who worked as a doctor at a commune-like camp in Chile has been charged with torturing children.

A Chilean judge said Gisela Seewald had confessed to giving electric shocks and sedatives to children at the secretive German enclave of Colonia Dignidad.

She said the abuses were ordered by the enclave's founder, former Nazi soldier Paul Schaefer, who is also in custody.

Mr Schaefer is facing charges of child abuse and aiding human rights abuses during Chile's military dictatorship.

The former Baptist preacher established the 13,000-hectare (32,000-acre) colony in southern Chile in 1961, after fleeing Germany to escape child abuse charges.

He has also been charged in connection with the confession by Mrs Seewald.

Commune hospital

The indictment produced by Judge Jorge Zepeda said Mrs Seewald, 75, had confessed to giving drugs and electric shocks to eight German children who Mr Schaefer claimed were possessed.

"She followed him in his obsession to separate the children from their families and inhibit their sexuality," the judge said.

Mrs Seewald arrived in Colonia Dignidad in 1963, two years after Mr Schaefer and her husband, Dr Gerd Seewald.

She was head of the commune's hospital between 1975 and 1978.

Mr and Mrs Seewald have been living at the enclave, now known as Villa Baviera, which was taken over by the Chilean authorities earlier this year.

As well as abuses against the commune's residents - most of whom are believed to have been held there against their will - the judge is investigating the possibility that arms trafficking and human rights abuses took place under Mr Schaefer's leadership.

A Chilean congressional report has alleged that Colonia Dignidad operated as a "state within a state" during the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet, thanks to Mr Schaefer's close ties to the country's ruling elite.

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Country profile: Chile
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24 May 05 |  Country profiles

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