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Ex-German Soldier Charged With Torturing Children in Chile

DW staff / AFP (ncy)December 29, 2005

Former German army corporal Paul Schäfer has been charged with torturing eight children in a mysterious German enclave that he founded in Chile, according to judicial sources.

Colonia Dignidad was no place for children, it seemsImage: dpa - Bildfunk

Chilean judge Jorge Zepeda issued the charges against the former sect leader on Wednesday. Paul Schäfer, 84, was already charged with the rape of more than 20 children. He was arrested in Argentina in March after eight years on the run.

Zepeda, who has investigated alleged crimes committed in the Colonia Dignidad enclave founded in 1961, also issued charges against a German doctor who admitted to torturing children, on Wednesday.

Paul Schäfer Gründer von Colonia Dignidad in Chile
Sect leader Paul Schäfer faces numerous chargesImage: dpa - Bildfunk

Gisela Seewald, 75, admitted that she used electroshock treatment and sedatives on children who refused to obey Colonia Dignidad's hierarchy as director of the enclave's hospital from 1975 to 1978. The treatments were also applied to children who resisted the sexual advances of colony-founder Schäfer, the doctor told Zepeda in her confession on Monday.

Schäfer established the large, self-sufficient German colony in an isolated region south of Santiago in 1961 after fleeing Germany to escape child abuse charges. About 300 Germans still live in the colony 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Santiago.