SANTIAGO – After 19 years of investigation, six people have been sentenced in the high-profile murder case of Eduardo Frei Montalva. Frei, who was president between 1964 and 1970, died under suspicious circumstances after undergoing hernia surgery. Among those convicted is the personal driver of Frei.
“They are killing me”, Eduardo Frei Montalva told his daughter Carmen, after he fell sick in 1982. What should have been a simple hernia surgery turned out to be the death of the former president. Frei, who first supported the coup d´état led by general Augusto Pinochet, became a vocal opponent of the dictatorship through the years.
Eduardo Frei Montalva was a popular political force in Chile under Pinochet, and became a threat to the military dictatorship, condemning the numerous human rights violations that took place under the regime.
So, when Frei went to a private clinic in 1981 for a simple surgery, it would be the start of the end for the former president. Although he left the hospital three days after surgery, he was slowly being poisoned with, among other toxins, mustard gas, leading to his death in early 1982. Pinochet himself attended the funeral of Frei Montalva.
19 years investigating
It wasn´t until 1999, when Carmen Frei, the former president’s daughter, wrote a book about the suspicious death of her father, triggering an investigation that would last 19 years. Last week, with the conviction of six perpetrators, the highest profile murder case in Chile, finally came to an end.
Six people were convicted to prison sentences. Among them, the doctor, a former secret agent of the intelligence service DINA, the former driver of Frei and two doctors who hid the autopsy, performed on the body after the death of the ex-president.
Carmen Frei, daughter of Eduardo Frei Montalva, told the press she was relieved to hear justice has finally been served in the murder case of her father. “My father deserves to rest in peace, and I think that today he is resting”, she said.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.