It took almost four decades for a conviction to be handed down. On Friday January 5, the Supreme Court of Chile imposed a 20-year prison sentence on four soldiers, now retired, for the homicide of two people in the so-called “Quemados” case.

This dark episode of the dictatorship occurred on July 2, 1986, against the backdrop of a national strike against the military regime of Augusto Pinochet. On that date, a military patrol arrested, beat, doused with fuel and burned two young Chileans. Aged 18, Carmen Gloria Quintana, a university student at the time of the incident, survived her serious burns, unlike Rodrigo Rojas de Negri, a 19-year-old photographer, who died four days later.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Chile sentenced Pinochet regime officers Pedro Fernandez Dittus, Julio Castañer Gonzalez, Ivan Figueroa Canobra and Nelson Medina Galvez to 20 years in prison for the homicide of Rojas de Negri and the attempted homicide of Carmen Gloria Quintana.

“A long process, very trying”

This judgment puts “an end to a long, very trying process, during which it was necessary to challenge an official thesis established by the dictator according to which the young people had burned themselves because they were carrying incendiary bombs under their clothes,” commented Carmen Gloria Quintana’s lawyer, Nelson Caucoto, quoted by a local radio.

The Quemados affair is one of the most emblematic of the last years of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), which left more than 3,200 people dead or missing.