SEARCHING FOR BORIS WEISFEILER: SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
2018. A STALLING JUDICIAL PROCESSING
A democratic judicial system should presumably have some rules, some time limitations for the processing, including processing of the appeals, performing of medical evaluations, etc. At present, it seems as the Chilean Government and the Chilean Judicial system - both - are complicit in stalling the judicial process while avoiding taking responsibility for the tragic death of the US citizen's Boris Weisfeiler.
Here are the basic dates of the judicial processing to which were no rules applied:
- January 4 1985. Boris Weisfeiler disappears while on solo hiking trip in the south of Chile. According to the documents declassified in 2000, he was abducted by the Chilean milirary. An initial judicial inquest opened by US Embassy was closed a month later on March 6 1985 basically without any investigation at all.
- 15 Years later: January 2000. The Weisfeiler case is reopened in the Chilean Courts by the family’s attorney Hernan Fernandez. Since then, three specially appointed judges of the Court of Appeals - Juan Guzman (2000-2002), Alejandro Solis (2002-2005), and Jorge Zepeda (2005-2016) - have been handling the case.
- August 2012. Judge Zepeda indicted eight former military officers for aggravated kidnapping and complicity in disappearance of the US Citizen’s in 1985. Note: indictments are designed by prosecutors to tell a compelling and detailed crime story. Judge ruled all of the indicted will stand a trail; investigation continues.
- June 2015. Judge Zepeda abruptly closed the case and therefore stopped its investigation in a meantime refusing number of the attorney’s requests.
- March 8 2016. Judge Zepeda issued his sentence while acquitting all of the previously indicted by him military officers without any legal merit while basing his judgment on the false pretends seemingly in an attempt to cover up the perpetrators of the crime.
- March 14 2016. Appeals by family's attorney Hernan Fernandez, HR department of the Government of Chile, and the CDE (Defense Consul of the State) were filed at the Court of Appeals.
- June 6 2016. A Legal Adviser, a judge appointed by the court to review the case, issued her opinion basically ripping up Judge Zepeda’s sentence as the one, beside of other issues, lacking ‘a decent legal argumentation.’
- March 13 2017. The Weisfeiler’s case was placed ‘on schedule’ for the Appeals Court's hearing.
- Septembert 2017. A scheduled court’s hearing is postponed indefinitely due to the necessity of performing a legal psychiatric evaluation - the SML exams - of the eight accused.
- February 2018. Eighteen years (18!) later after the Weisfeiler’s case was reopened in the Chilean Courts and 33 years after Boris' disappaerance there is little progress in the resolving it.
- November 2018. With the posted and broken one after another deadline, ordered SML's exams were finally performed and confirmed more than a year later. The case is returned by Judge Carroza (the new judge on the case since March 2018) to the Court for a hearing. A hearing is not scheduled yet and there is only hope it will be at some point, hopefully soon enough.
The US government, while helpful with my efforts, is impotent to obtain justice for one of it's citizens who disappeared at the hands of the military forces of an allied nation. The time is way overdue to resolve the case and punish the perpetrators.
2017. STILL SEARCHING FOR TRUTH AND WAITING FOR JUSTICE
Boris' sister, Olga, traveled to Chile in May 2017 in hope of being part of the Court of Appeals’ hearing for the case of her brother.
According to Court rules, only attorneys are allowed to make statements during an appeal hearing. Therefore, although Olga prepared a statement (click here for English), she is not allowed to testify at the hearing. Olga's statement, as an opinion column, was published in Chile in: El Periodista, Le Monde Diplomatique, El Desconcierto, El Ciudadano, El Siglo, El Boletin, PiensaChile, ColoniaDignidad.cl, and El Clarin.
A hearing, which has been postponed many times since March, did not take place neither in May, June, nor in July.
By the beginning of September, after 6 months of being on schedule, an Appeals Court's hearing was postponed indefinite due to the suddenly recognized judicial processing: psychological exams must be performed to some of the eight men – 70 years old – indicted in Boris's case. There is no time limit for the Court of Appeals' hearing to be put back on the schedule once again.
2016. A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
In June 2015 Judge Jorge Zepeda closed the Weisfeiler’s disappearance case, while refusing to investigate further additional leads, to question new witnesses, or investigate a cover-up by the high ranking military officers requested by case attorney, Hernan Fernandez.
On March 8, 2016 judge issued his final ruling. The judge’s decision is a travesty of justice: Judge Jorge Zepeda has transformed unresolved human rights atrocity committed by the agents of the State, into a common crime and applied the statute of limitation.
The ruling contradicts a 2012 indictment in which the same judge, Jorge Zepeda, in the court filing ruled: the suspects, eight former military officers, will be prosecuted for aggravated kidnapping and complicity in the disappearance of a U.S. citizen's in 1985.
Judge Zepeda’s ruling in this case is a direct aide-mémoire of the judicial rulings during Gen Pinochet’s dictatorship.
"If allowed to stand, this ruling essentially will perpetuate a thirty year cover up of the disappearance of a U.S. citizen in Chile," according to Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.
Memorial service dedicated to seventeen human rights victims of Pinochet's dictatorship, including Boris, was held on December 8 2013 in Santiago's Jewish Cemetery. Engraved in the black granite monument are the words “That your souls remain linked to the bonds of life.” Also written on the stone is excerpt from the Torah, “Even unto them will I give in My house and within My walls a monument and a memorial better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting memorial, that shall not be cut off.”
A memorial plaque , dedicated to all those Jewish victims was installed on the wall of Villa Grimaldi, the place of notorious General Pinochet's former prison.
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 on January 3-5, 1985.
The indicted agents, the ruling said, apart from taking away Boris' liberty, have persisted in hiding the facts (video, in Spanish) of the illegal detention and the whereabouts of Boris Weisfeiler.
The ruling makes no mention of where Boris might have been taken after his detention or what happened to him afterwards.
2011. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION'S RESOLUTION
On August 26, 2011 the final Human Rights Valech Commission's report made public. Case of Boris Weisfeiler disappearance in Chile is not accepted as a Human Rights violation .
As it appears, for some unexplained reason, members of La Comisión did not evaluate any of the newly presented information, such as the US declassified documentation. 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.
2010. 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.
A written statement in English and in Spanish 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.
2009. WEISFEILER CASE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE
According to Chilean law, the only way to classify a case as being a human rights violation, officially, was through the special HR Commission.
In its 1991 report, the Retting Commission did not include the Weisfeiler disappearance case into human right violation category because, as it said, 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 at the time.
Since the case was reopened in 2000, an ongoing criminal investigation in Chile has been treated the case as a 'de facto' human rights case – but never officially.
On September 11, 2009, Chilean Congress approved the bill that would reopen two former Human Rights Commissions: Rettig and Valech. And therefore open the possibility for the Weisfeiler family, as well as of many Chilean families, to resubmit their cases for the Commission’s reevaluation again.
2006. 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. The Chilean government web site in its online posting "Meeting with Olga Weisfeiler", 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 while referring to the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Rettig) report which did not classify the Weisfeiler case as a human rights violation.
President Bachelet, however, announced to the US Congress that the Government’s legal body, Chile’s State Defense Council (CDE), will take part in the Weisfeiler case as a plaintiff.
2000. INTRODUCTION: THE WEISFEILER CASE
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.
The Weisfeiler's family reopened investigation in the Chilean Courts in early January 2000.
In June 2000, the U.S. has declassified over 500 documents related to the Weisfeiler’s disappearance.
Declassified U.S. documents tell a different story. According to an informant (1987), Weisfeiler was detained by Augusto Pinochet's soldiers, presumed to be a CIA, or a Russian or a Jewish spy, and taken to the secretive Nazi-related German settlement Colonia Dignidad. Those 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."