Sunday, May 04, 2008

Michael Woodward

I had a very touching letter from Patricia Bennetts, sister of Father Michael Woodward, who was murdered on board the Chilean naval ship Esmeralda in 1973. After all these years, five former naval officers have been charged with the murder. I had tried to find a way of getting the case raised under the EU-Chile Association Agreement which contains a human rights clause, but like all these clauses in all Association Agreements it turned out to be useless. However, my correspondence shows that behind the scenes FCO Ministers did urge the Chilean authorities to pursue further investigations and now at last some action is under way. Six high ranking ex-officers have been charged with the kidnapping and torture of Fr Woodward.

This comes hard on the heels of the imprisonment of former General Manuel Contreras, convicted of the terrorist bomb attack in Washington DC which killed former foreign minister Orlando Letelier and his assistant Ronni Moffitt on September 21,1976. Letelier's widow Isabel fought tenaciously for justice for more than three decades.

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