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Founder of Colony of German Immigrants Denies Torture Allegations

August 8, 1988

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ The founder of a secretive colony of West German immigrants denied during bedside questioning by a Chilean judge that the enclave had been used as a torture center, newspapers reported Sunday.

They said Paul Schaefer was questioned for four hours Saturday by Judge Lidia Villagran at Dignity Colony, 210 miles south of Santiago in the Andean foothills.

Schaefer, who served in the German air force in World War II, led a group of West German Free Baptists to Chile and established the colony in the early 1960s. It now has about 300 members.

Mrs. Villagran is a resident of the city of Parral 12 miles from Dignity Colony. She was asked by a court in Munich, West Germany, to investigate allegations that the colony was used as a torture and execution center by Chilean secret police after a military coup in September 1973 that ousted the government of elected President Salvador Allende, a Marxist.

The Munich court is handling a slander suit by colony leaders against the West German branch of Amnesty International and Stern magazine for making the allegations.

Schaefer was to have testified in Mrs. Villagran’s court Friday, but his doctors said he was confined to a bed in the colony because of a heart problem. The judge then went to the colony accompanied by lawyers for both sides in the slander suit.

The Santiago newspapers La Epoca and Ultimas Noticias carried transcripts of Schaefer’s testimony.

According to the reports, Schaefer denied that a former colony president, Hermann Schmidt, had helped Chilean police agents select suspected leftists for detainment. ″That’s crazy, that’s stupid,″ he was quoted as saying.

The reports said he was asked if people were tortured at the colony, either by secret police or colony members, and replied, ″That isn’t true.″

Reporters who tried to enter the colony with the judge’s entourage were blocked by a group of colony supporters.

The colony is surrounded by fences and public access is prohibited.

Some former colony members have claimed they were physically and psychologically abused and exploited as slave labor while they lived in the colony. Another judge is investigating those allegations at the request of the West German government.

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