Australian court orders Chilean woman’s extradition over Pinochet-era charges

(Reuters) – An Australian court on Thursday ruled that a Chilean woman accused of kidnapping seven people during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet must be extradited to face the charges, rejecting her legal appeal.

Adriana Rivas, aged in her late 60s, has been in custody since her arrest by New South Wales state police in 2019 after a request from the South American country for her extradition. She left Chile in 1978 and worked as a cleaner in Sydney before her arrest, according to local media reports.

She is charged with involvement in the disappearance of seven people by working as an agent of a secret police force known as Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia (DINA). She denies the charges.

She appealed a magistrate’s previous extradition order on technical grounds that included questioning the authenticity of documents purporting to prove she had been a DINA agent or was directly involved in unlawful arrests, according to a ruling by Federal Court Judge Wendy Abraham.

The appeal was based on “an assertion that the magistrate ‘engaged in a rubber stamping exercise and nothing more’ (but) there is no substance to that submission,” Abraham wrote in her judgment, published on Thursday. “It is not borne out.”

Rivas’s appeal showed a “misunderstanding” of international extradition processes, including an incorrect assertion that extradition would be a “breach of the principle of legality”, the judge added.

The judge ordered Rivas pay Chile’s court costs and that she surrender.

More than 3,000 people died or disappeared in political violence during Pinochet’s military regime from 1973 to 1990. The secret service and the army also tortured and drove into exile thousands of dissidents and leftists, truth commissions and police investigations have shown.