Germany proposes to compensate victims of the Chilean cult led by an ex-Nazi

SANTIAGO / BERLIN (Reuters) – German lawmakers have offered to compensate the German government for former members of a Chilean cult established by an ex-Nazi in the 1960s, according to the Chancellor's conservative parliamentary group. Angela Merkel.

FILE PHOTO: Former secret sect leader Colonia Dignidad, Paul Schaefer (C), seated in a wheelchair in front of the Interpol police station after being interrogated in Santiago on March 14, 2005. REUTERS / Eliseo Fernandez // File Photo

The Budget Committee of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, said it included in its budget plan a proposal to pay a total of one million euros ($ 1.13 million) to the victims.

The cult and the community that housed it, called Colonia Dignidad, was a secret sect founded in 1961 by the former military doctor of the German army, Paul Schaefer, at the foot of the Chilean Andes.

Schaefer preached ultra-traditional values ​​while abusing and torturing dozens of young people. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990, the community also served as a place of detention and torture for state enemies.

Schaefer died in 2010 while he was serving a 20-year sentence for sexual abuse.

In 2006, former sect members issued a public apology and asked for forgiveness for 40 years of human rights violations in their community, claiming that they had been brainwashed by Schaefer, considered by many as a god.

"In all political groups and in the near future, we want to achieve results with the" Joint Commission to help the victims of Colonia Dignidad, "said the spokesman of the parliamentary group for human rights, Michael Brand, in a statement.

The draft federal budget, which includes the proposal for compensation of victims, still needs to be approved.

The budget committee was not immediately available for comment.

Colonia Dignidad continues to provoke controversy in Chile. The community has been renamed as a rustic retreat on the theme of Bavaria, which the victims consider disrespectful.

Report by Dave Sherwood and Maria Sheahan, edited by Rosalba O & # 39; Brien

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