Page last updated at 03:28 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 04:28 UK

Chile jails death squad officers

Gen Sergio Arellano Stark in a photo from 1997
Arellano ordered four murders at a military prison in October 1973

Chile's supreme court has jailed five retired senior military officers over the killing of dozens of government opponents under military rule.

The officers were all members of a military committee known as the Caravan of Death, which criss-crossed the country killing suspected leftists.

Their crimes date back to shortly after the late Gen Augusto Pinochet took power in a military coup in 1973.

The head of the committee, Gen Sergio Arellano Stark, is now 88.

He was jailed for six years for ordering the murder of four men at a military prison in Linares, southern Chile.

One of the other officers was also sentenced to six years, and the other three received four-year terms.

"It's great news, above all for the families of all the victims of the Caravan of Death which, we now know, got its orders to murder and kill from Arellano Stark," plaintiffs' lawyer Hugo Gutierrez said after sentence was passed.

But Arellano's lawyer, Claudio Arellano Parker, described the sentence as "extraordinarily unjust".

He said his client was in no condition to understand the proceedings of the trial.

Pinochet suspects arrests ordered
26 May 08 |  Americas
Chile ex-general jailed for life
29 Aug 07 |  Americas
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04 Jul 07 |  Americas
Did Pinochet kill or cure Chile?
11 Dec 06 |  Business
Timeline: Chile
28 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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