A 75-year-old German doctor has been arrested in Chile, accused of torturing dozens of children at a secretive religious sect. Director of the cult’s hospital in the mid 1970s, Gisela Seewald has admitted administering electric shocks and drugs to children and adults at the Dignidad Colony. It was founded by former Nazi soldier Paul Schaefer in 1961. After eight years on the run, he was arrested in March in Argentina.
He is accused of sexually abusing 26 children and aiding secret police under Chile’s 1973 to 1990 military rule. The commune is believed to have been used as an interrogation and torture centre for political prisoners during General Augusto Pinochet’s regime. Some 300 settlers and their descendants still live at Colonia Dignidad, many of them elderly Germans who do not speak any Spanish and led an isolated life under Schaefer. Earlier this year, two stockpiles of weapons were found there. Control of the community now rests with a state appointed lawyer.