Nanny accused of Pinochet-era crimes loses extradition appeal

A Sydney-based Chilean woman accused of Pinochet-era crimes lost a court appeal Thursday against extradition to Chile to face seven counts of aggravated kidnapping.

Adriana Elcira Rivas Gonzalez, now aged in her late 60s, has been fighting extradition since being arrested by Australian authorities in February 2019.

She is alleged to have been a member of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s feared secret police in the 1970s and is wanted in connection with the 1976 disappearance of senior Communist Party official Victor Manuel Diaz Lopez.

US-backed Pinochet, who died in 2006, toppled the democratically elected socialist government of President Salvador Allende and presided over thousands of murders, tortures and forced disappearances as Latin America was ravaged by Cold War-fuelled violence.

Australia’s Federal Court on Thursday dismissed an application by Rivas to review a lower court judge’s 2020 decision that she should be sent to Chile to face the kidnapping charges.

“The applicant is eligible for surrender… in relation to the seven counts of aggravated kidnapping… for which her extradition is sought,” Justice Wendy Abraham said in a judgement.

Rivas, who was also ordered to pay the state’s legal costs, may yet appeal the decision.

Chile formally requested her extradition in 2018 from Sydney, where she had been working as a nanny and a cleaner in the city’s Bondi area.

Rivas has lived in Australia for three decades and was previously arrested while visiting Chile in 2007, but later fled to Australia while on bail. 

According to Chilean human rights archive Memoria Viva, “La Chani” — as Rivas was known — was once a personal secretary to notorious secret police boss Manuel Contreras and was later linked to the infamous Lautaro Brigade death squad. 

In a 2013 interview with Australian broadcaster SBS, Rivas claimed she was innocent, but defended the use of torture in Chile at the time. 

“They had to break the people -– it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile,” she said. 

Allende and more than 3,000 others were killed or went missing during and after Pinochet’s coup against the socialist government, according to researchers at Chile’s Diego Portales University. Nearly 40,000 were tortured.

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