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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 20:11 GMT
Pinochet was 'evil', says victim
Sheila Cassidy
Dr Cassidy has written books about her Chile experiences
Once a torture victim of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, British doctor and author Sheila Cassidy has said she is pleased the former Chilean ruler is dead.

Dr Cassidy said she hoped time would eventually heal wounds in Chile caused by the fierce debate over General Pinochet's legacy.

However, she rejected suggestions that torture carried out by the Pinochet regime had been exaggerated by his opponents.

The doctor suffered electric shock torture in the Chilean capital, Santiago, in 1975 after treating a man who was on the run from the Pinochet regime.

Dr Cassidy was stripped naked, tied to a metal bunk frame and held in solitary confinement for three weeks. She was released after two months following intervention by the British government.

She said: "I am glad that he is dead because he was a very evil man.

"I think he really did not care. You think of the way people were killed...the one that sticks in my mind was the people who were dropped alive from helicopters into the sea."

I feel sad that he died without being taken to court for the crimes he committed during this regime
Carlos Reyes Manzo, Chilean torture victim

She added: "You cannot get a lot more barbaric than that. There were all different methods of torture that were of the purest evil and cruelty.

"I have no doubt Pinochet knew what he was doing. Torture was part of the system."

Dr Cassidy also recalled the "caravan of death" in which helicopters with assassins on board flew up the coast of Chile killing people in different towns.

She said the vast majority held in detention camps had been tortured.

Dr Cassidy also expressed disappointment that the former Chilean leader did not stand trial for his crimes.

She said such a move might have brought comfort to the families of those tortured.

The doctor also questioned claims that Gen Pinochet's rule helped Chile's economy, saying that the poor were pushed into shanty-towns and were unable to afford basic goods.

She said the country was divided between a right-wing middle class who never believed that the dictator tortured people, and the families of those who actually disappeared.

Pinochet supporter
Some in Chile do not believe Pinochet sanctioned torture

She said: "It will be a burning issue. Time will heal it."

Writer Carlos Reyes Manzo, a Chilean now based in London, spent two years imprisoned in various concentration camps in the country between 1974 and 1975.

He said: "I feel sad that he died without being taken to court for the crimes he committed during this regime."

Mr Manzo said that there were still hundreds of people who vanished under the Pinochet regime and have never been found.


He added: "It is unfinished business. But it is history and we have to move on."

Describing Chile during the Pinochet era, Mr Manzo said it was "just complete madness".

He also criticised the UK over the international community's failure to bring the dictator to justice.

But Mr Manzo admitted he was surprised by reaction to the death in Chile, contrasting the feelings of the former ruler's opponents and his supporters.

He said: "We have so much division in Chile and that has surprised me. I was not expecting it. I hope that people will come to terms with what happened."

However, he said that those who had committed crimes against humanity in Chile should be brought to justice.

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