Chilean court jails ex-army officers for murdering witness in Croatian arms deal

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A court in Chile has sentenced four former army officers to jail terms for their parts in the murder of a key witness in an investigation into illegal arms shipments to Croatia. Colonel Gerardo Huber, who was then in charge of buying military weapons, testified in 1991, and was killed the following year.

At the time, Huber's death was ruled a suicide despite his recent testimony at a military investigation after police in Hungary uncovered a shipment of arms to Croatia marked as aid in late 1991. The shipment was alleged to have been approved by Chilean army head Augusto Pinochet. At the time, it was illegal to supply arms to Croatia following the breakup of Yugoslavia. There were eleven tons of arms in the shipment.

The verdict into Huber's death was reopened by a civilian court after thirteen years, resulting in a trial. He had been shot by a machine gun, with the impact destroying his head. Following their convictions, the court yesterday jailed Gen. Victor Lizarraga for ten years and Col. Manuel Provis for eight years after both were found guilty of conspiracy and homicide. Both were intelligence officials.

The court also jailed General Carlos Krum and Colonel Julio Munoz for just under two years on convictions of conspiracy and murder. All four are now retired. The person who pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Huber has never been identified.