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February 5, 2023
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Supreme Court ratifies sentence against Cristián Labbé for the crime of torture during the dictatorship, but he will serve his sentence in freedom

The Supreme Court rejected this Saturday appeals presented by the defense of the colonel (r) of the Army and former mayor of Providencia, Cristian Labbé Galilee, against the sentence that sentenced him to three years in prison for the consummated crime of applying torture. The crime was perpetrated in Panguipulli, in 1973, within the framework of Operation Comb.

In a divided ruling, the Second Chamber of the highest court – made up of the ministers Haroldo Brito, Manuel Antonio Valderrama, Jorge Dahm and the ministers Maria Theresa Letelier and Dobra Lusic– ruled out an error in the contested sentence, issued by the Temuco Court of Appeals, which confirmed the first degree that established the responsibility of Labbé Galilea in the crime.

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However, the Supreme Court granted Labbé the benefit of conditional remission, considering the advanced age of the convicted person.

According to the background of the case, a military patrol detained Harry Cohen Vera in the house of some relatives, in Futrono, on November 7, 1973. This, within the framework of Operation Peineta, in charge of the Labbé military reserve in the mountain range between Concepción and Valdivia, and whose objective was the capture of people opposed to the dictatorship.

At the place of detention, Labbé threatened the victim with cutting his throat. He also led the torture sessions where he was subjected to electric shocks, among other insults.


“That the facts clearly described are subsumed in the crime provided for and punished in article 150 No. 1 of the Penal Code, in its current text at the time, and being in charge of the detainees subject to torture and start the process that culminated in said pressures without a doubt constitute actions considered and sanctioned as authorship by article 15 No. 1 of the Penal Code, by taking part immediately and directly in its application, ”says the ruling.

However, the Criminal Chamber considered that in the case, due to the age of the convicted person, the sentence must be served under the alternative regime of conditional remission, in accordance with international treaties on the protection of the rights of older adults.

“Acting ex officio, the sentence of three years of imprisonment for a minor in its medium degree imposed on Cristián Labbé Galilea in the sentence handed down by the Minister in Extraordinary Visit, is substituted. Alvaro Mesa Latorre (…) for the conditional remission of the sentence for a term of three years,” the ruling states.

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