RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Chilean ex-guerrilla Raúl Escobar Poblete, accused of the murder of the ultra-right-wing senator Jaime Guzmán in 1991, was extradited from Mexico and arrived in Santiago early Thursday morning to face his trial before Justice.
“This is due to Chile’s bilateral treaties with Mexico, and both the Foreign Ministry and the Judiciary have finally achieved his extradition,” said the inspector of the Investigative Police, José Ortiz Sandoval.
Escobar Poblete, known as “Commander Emilio”, will be guarded by the Gendarmerie and placed at the disposal of the Chilean justice system “temporarily” to be later returned to Mexico, where he is serving a 60-year prison sentence for other crimes.
The former guerrilla was the leader of a cell of the ultra-left group Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR) during a turbulent period of the return to democracy after the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and is accused of being one of the murderers of the ultra-right-wing Guzmán, ideologist of the military regime.
Founder of the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union (UDI) – one of the four parties that make up the current government coalition – Guzmán was shot as he left class and died hours later in a hospital.
Escobar Poblete managed to hide in Guanajuato (Mexico) for 20 years under the false identity of Ramón Alberto Guerra Valencia, accompanied by other FPMR comrades until, in May 2017, he was arrested and sentenced to 60 years in prison by a Mexican judge for the kidnapping of a French-American citizen.
Upon learning of the arrest, the Chilean government requested his extradition. Although Mexico granted it on November 26, 2018, Commander Emilio battled in court to avoid being sent back to his country.
“It is important to bring the murderers of a senator to JJustice in a democracy. It is good for confidence in the institutions even if it is 30 years late,” added the Undersecretary of the Interior, Juan Francisco Galli.
The other perpetrator of the murder, according to Chilean authorities, is Ricardo Palma Salamanca, who resides in France with political asylum granted by the French authorities, and is considered one of the most wanted fugitives after escaping in 1996 by helicopter from the High-Security Prison (CAS) in Santiago.
Several members of the group’s political-military leadership are considered the masterminds: Galvarino Apablaza, who is also still at large in Argentina, Mauricio Hernández Norambuena, who was deported from Brazil and is serving two 15-year sentences, and Juan Gutiérrez Fischmann, who is suspected of living in Cuba.
“We have waited more than 30 years for this crime not to go unpunished (…) This is a very relevant milestone for JJustice to be done,” said a UDI communiqué on Wednesday.