SEARCHING FOR BORIS WEISFEILER
THE WEISFEILER CASE: INDICTMENTS
On August 21, 2012 a Chilean judge ordered the arrest of eight retired police and military officers in connection with the kidnapping and disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler. According to the court filings, the suspects will be prosecuted for "aggravated kidnapping" and "complicity" in the disappearance of a U.S. citizen's between January 3-5, 1985.
The ruling makes no mention of where Boris might have been taken after his detention or what happened to him afterwards.
In his 16 pages indictment, Judge Jorge Zepeda said that most of the evidence gathered thus far has come from declassified U.S. documentation. The names of those ordered to be arrested have been known to the U.S. Embassy since 1985 (of Carabineros) and 1988 (of the Army patrol.) The documents were declassified in 2000.
The judge appears to have obtained some additional evidence from witnesses who saw the police and military patrols in the area at the time Boris disappeared.
The indictment says Weisfeiler was wearing military-style clothes while hiking alone near the Argentine border and Carabineros, alarmed by a report from a local farmer, had mistaken him for a subversive illegally crossing the border. (Actually, Boris was wearing the same dark-green color hiking jacket that is seen on the picture above.)
The last year Human Rights Valech Commission had the same U.S. declassified documents at their disposal. Yet, they, apparently, did not study those documents closely enough to classify Boris' disappearance as to have been committed by the agents of the State. But the latest judicial ruling confirmed such violation of Boris' human rights. The indicted agents, the ruling said, apart from taking away Boris' liberty, have persisted in hiding the facts of the illegal detention and the whereabouts of Boris Weisfeiler.
The indictments are just the first step in the long legal battle ahead to uncover the truth about Boris Weisfeiler's fate.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION'S RESOLUTION
On August 26, 2011 the final Human Rights Valech Commission's report made public and posted on-line. Case of Boris Weisfeiler disappearance in Chile is not accepted as a Human Rights violation . I am extremely disappointed with the Commission's decision. Boris was deprived by the Chilean State not only of his life but also of being recognized as its victim. It is very sad day for me and my family.
My brother is a victim of the political repression of the Pinochet regime, even if the Commission did not have the proof at its disposal to formally accept his case as a human rights atrocity. Declassified U.S. documents leave no doubt that Boris Weisfeiler is the one U.S. citizen among 1100+ Chileans disappeared at the hands of agents of state repression.
I have waited over 25 years for both truth and justice in his case, and I will continue to wait for the government of Chile, and the Courts, to do what must be done to find him, and punish those who are responsible for depriving him of his life and liberty, and taking him from his family.
It is also time for the U.S. government to make clear to Chile that the case of Boris Weisfeiler must be resolved and to provide all necessary investigative assistance toward that long overdue goal.
WEISFEILER CASE SUBMITTED TO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Olga Weisfeiler and her son Lev arrived in Chile on February 26, 2010 to resubmit Boris Weisfeiler's case to the recently opened human rights commission, Comisión Asesora para la calificación de Detenidos Desaparecidos, Ejecutados Políticos y Víctimas de Prisión Política y Tortura, in short 'La Comisión' for evaluation.
In the early morning of February 27, 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in history. Despite the heavy damage and destruction caused by the earthquake, as well as ongoing aftershocks, La Comisión, continued accepting new applications.
Olga Weisfeiler submitted for La Comisión a written statement in English and in Spanish. The statement gives a comprehensive account of the facts and events that occurred on the night of Boris' disappearance and subsequent actions by Pinochet’s military to conceal the crime.
The case was submitted to La Comisión on March 4, 2010 exactly 25 years after the local Chilean Court closed the case and declared Boris Weisfeiler’s death by accidental drowning. At present, the family anticipates Boris' case will be classified as a human rights violation.
In the meantime, the judicial investigation in Chile continues to move forward and make progress. The Legal Attaché's office of the U.S. Embassy in Santiago (the FBI) finally officially received permission from Judge Zepeda to cooperate with the PDI (Policia De Investigaciones) on the investigation of Boris Weisfeiler's disappearance; the Judge is now encouraging a greater exchange of information between the both agencies.
WEISFEILER CASE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE
On September 11, 2009, the 36th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup, the Chilean Congress approved the bill that would reopen two former Human Rights Commissions: Rettig and Valech. According to Chilean law, the only way to classify a case as being a human rights violation, officially, was through the Commission, which could not be restarted after it finished its work in 1991.
In its 1991 report, the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, commonly known as Rettig Commission, did not include the Weisfeiler case into human right violation category because there was not enough evidence to support such: all of the information gathered by the U.S. Embassy during 5 years of the investigation was regarded as "classified," and therefore not available to the Chilean investigators for evaluation.
In 2000, the U.S. has declassified over 500 documents related to the Weisfeiler’s case. Since 2000, there is an ongoing criminal investigation in Chile, and the case has at times been treated as a 'de facto' human rights case – but not always, and never officially.
By establishing that Boris’ murder was a human rights violation in which agents of the State - Carabineros and/or members of an Army patrol - were involved, the Government of Chile would finally acknowledge its role in the fate of Boris Weisfeiler.
MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OF CHILE
In June 2006, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet met in Washington D.C. with sister of Boris Weisfeiler, Dr. Olga Weisfeiler. In an online posting after the meeting Meeting with Olga Weisfeiler, the Chilean government web site acknowledged that Boris Weisfeiler "desaparecido en Chile en enero de 1985, tras su detención por una patrulla militar" (disappeared in Chile in January 1985 after he was arrested by military patrol.)
Yet, 24 years after it happened, the Chilean Government is refusing to accept its responsibility , in Prof. Weisfeiler disappearance, referring to the 1990-93 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Rettig) report which did not classify the Weisfeiler case as a human rights violation.
The Weisfeiler family is continuing the fight for truth and for justice for Boris – and to force the Chilean Government to formally accept its responsibility for the tragic fate of Prof. Weisfeiler.
January 2005. It has been twenty years since my brother, Boris Weisfeiler, vanished while on a hiking trip in Southern Chile.
To learn more about Boris and my efforts to find him take a look at the photo album “Searching for Boris” below. The album includes pictures of Boris Weisfeiler from 1970’s and early 1980's, pictures from my November 2004 trip to Chile when I visited Colonia Dignidad. Also included are photos taken in 1985 and in 2002 of the location where Boris was last seen.
November 2001. There are more than 1,100 desaparecidos (disappeared persons) in Chile and one of them is a U.S. citizen - Boris Weisfeiler. A Russian-born mathematics professor at Pennsylvania State University, Weisfeiler vanished while on a hiking trip near the border between Chile and Argentina in the early part of January 1985. After a quick and cursory investigation, Chilean authorities concluded that Weisfeiler had drowned in the Los Sauces River during his trip.
Declassified U.S. documents tell a different story. According to an informant, Weisfeiler was detained by Augusto Pinochet's soldiers, presumed to be a CIA, or a Russian or a Jewish spy, and taken to the mysterious German settlement Colonia Dignidad. The declassified U.S. documents show that the U.S. Embassy personnel did not do enough to ascertain the fate of Weisfeiler, the only missing U.S. citizen in Chile. As consul Jayne Kobliska stated more than a year after Weisfeiler's disappearance in a memo from April 1986, "the real danger in this case is that we will delay action until it is too late to either save Weisfeiler's life or to determine the true circumstances of his death."
TIMELINE: THE WEISFEILER CASE
“Timeline: The Weisfeiler Case” - a guide to key events, legal and political issues related to the January 1985 disappearance in Chile of a U.S. citizen, Boris Weisfeiler. This timeline draws on declassified U.S. government records, official correspondence, court rulings, and Chilean and U.S. newspaper publications.