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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Chilean colony sex abuser jailed
Paul Schaefer
Paul Schaefer, a former Nazi, established the colony in 1961
The former leader of a controversial German colony in southern Chile has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for sexually abusing 25 children there.

Paul Schaefer, 84, a former Nazi who established the colony in 1961, was ordered to pay $1.5m in compensation.

Most of the commune's residents are believed to have been held there against their will.

Colony leaders have been accused of working with the secret police during the Pinochet military regime.

Schaefer denies separate charges of allowing the secret police to use the enclave as a centre for torturing left-wing dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s.

'State within a state'

Schaefer fled Chile in 1997 and was convicted of sex crimes in absentia. He was found hiding in Argentina in March 2005 and sent back for a fresh trial.

Residents of Colonia Dignidad
Colonia Dignidad was taken over by the state last year

The state took over the Colonia Dignidad (Dignity Colony) last year.

Schaefer was sentenced at a court in Parral, in a mountainous region 350km (215 miles) south of the capital Santiago.

In all 18 people have been indicted over human rights abuses committed at the enclave during the military rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet.

A Chilean congressional report has said that Colonia Dignidad operated as a "state within a state" during the Pinochet regime, thanks to Schaefer's close ties to the country's ruling elite.

Former members have spoken about the conditions at the enclave, claiming Schaefer forced children to live separately from their parents.

They said he banned contact with the outside world.

Some former members have asked the Chilean public for forgiveness, saying Schaefer brainwashed them.

In an open letter last December, ex-members said those who angered Schaefer "were the subject of atrocious punishments, even including torture".

"They were given high doses of tranquilisers, were submitted to electric shocks and were isolated for long periods, even years."

Chile colony leaders face charges
26 May 06 |  Americas
German charged over 'Chile abuse'
29 Dec 05 |  Americas
Chile officials take over colony
27 Aug 05 |  Americas
Chilean police raid German enclave
12 Oct 00 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
26 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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