SYDNEY (AP) — A lawyer for a woman wanted in Chile on kidnapping charges dating back to the country’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship denied in a Sydney court on Friday that she was involved in the disappearances of seven people and argued she was working in a mundane secretarial job at the time.
Adriana Rivas, 66, has been in custody since her arrest in Sydney in February on a Chilean Supreme Court extradition request. She applied for release on bail on Friday in a Sydney Central local Court hearing that will continue on Monday.
Her lawyer, Frank Santisi, told the court she denied being a “co-perpetrator” and had never seen the alleged victims.
Chile requested Rivas’ extradition in 2014. She is wanted for her alleged role in the 1976 killing of a Communist Party leader, Víctor Díaz, who was held in a secret prison before being suffocated and thrown into the ocean.
The extradition is requested on charges that she kidnapped seven people in 1976 and 1977, including Diaz. The alleged victims have never been found.
Rivas was an assistant to Manuel Contreras, the head of the DINA secret police during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
Santisi said the kidnappings were alleged to have occurred when Rivas was in her early 20s and Chile was “effectively under martial law.”
“When one starts reading the extradition material, what is being said about these seven people was that they were in fact arrested, not kidnapped,” the lawyer said.
The documents were unclear on “when these persons became detained unlawfully, if at all,” Santisi told the court.
“The material suggests that they were tortured and ultimately killed,” he said.
The lawyer said Rivas was not a DINA agent and her work was mundane. Her tasks included collecting laundry, making coffee and translating, he said.
Chile’s lawyer, Trent Glover, told the court Rivas’ denials were irrelevant.
Glover said the extradition process did not involve determination of guilt or innocence.
Santisi said there were serious questions about whether the alleged victims were arrested by DINA agents or other arms of the military. There was nothing in the extradition documents to reveal with any certainty if Rivas was present, he said.
He said there would be a Australian Federal Court challenge to the lawfulness of the extradition and Rivas could spend years in Australian custody while the issues were resolved.
Rivas moved to Australia in 1978 and was detained during a visit to Chile in 2006. She was released after some months on probation and fled to Australia in 2009.
Rivas had been working as a part-time nanny and a cleaner in Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs before her arrest this year.
Santisi said Rivas accepted it “wasn’t proper” for her to leave Chile, but felt she was forced to leave.