The Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA), Chile's feared secret police named by international human-rights organizations as responsible for the torture and disappearance of hundreds of political dissenters, has been ordered dissolved, the government announced today.
The announcement this morning came as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Terence Todman began his second day of interviews with government officials and leaders of opposition political parties and labor unions.
Eight members of a group calling itself Relatives of Missing Detainees were arrested as they tried to approach Todman before one of the interviews.
The government statement said DINA had been dissolved because it "had completed the delicate national security functions with which it was entrusted." A new intelligence organism, the National Intelligence Center (CNI), will be established, the statement said.
Government press officer Max Reindl said the CNI will not be authorized to make arrests and that its function would be "purely informational." He added that Col. Manuel Contreras, director of DINA, would not have a post in the new information organization.
DINA has been the center of the controversy about human-rights violations in Chile because of its powers and maintain hidden interrogation centers where political prisoners are held.
Numerous former prisoners have testified before international human rights protection organizations that they were tortured while in DINA interrogation centers and that some fellow prisoners were never seen again.
Dissolution of DINA has been one of the points pushed by the United States for bettering relations with Chile.
Chile, in turn, has rejected all U.S. aid since Congress last year suspended military aid to the country because of alleged violations of human rights by Chile's military rulers.
The military government, stung by exiles and other outside the country, apparently would like Todman to return to Washington with the understanding that respect for human rights has increased in recent months.
Todman, a 51-year-old career diplomat, is believed to be trying to determine whether a decline in disappearances and an increase in prison releases warrant a softening of the U.S. attitude, toughened by the Carter administration, toward the military government.
A spokesman for Relatives of Missing Detainees said members of the organization intended to present Todman with information about 501 persons they charge disappeared after detention by security police during the past four years of the military government.
Eight of the demonstrators, some carrying signs with pictures of their missing relatives, were arrested by uniformed police conside the Chilean supreme court building as Todman arrived for an interview with Jose Maria Ezyguirre, supreme court president.
The eight were charged with causing a disorder in a public street and released on bond three hours later. One of those arrested said the group had been interrogated by DINA officers during their detention.
Government spokesman Reindl said the announcement of DINA's dissolution was not connected with Todman's visit but that Chile "hopes for a maximum of good relatons" with the United States. Reindl said future arrests would be carried out by the civilian police, known as Investigations, according to normal procedures. Arrests without charges according to the four-year-old state of siege provisions, he said, "do not exist."
[The press office of President Augusto Pinochet said he had signed the dissolution decree Aug. 6, but it had not previously been made public, the Associated Press said.]
[DINA, formally called the National Interlligence Comman, was established a few months after the military overthrew the late President Salvador Allende, a Socialist, on Sept. 11, 1973.]
[THe secret police, responsible only to Pinochet, was made up of intelligence experts from the four branches of the armed services.]
The government statement said the CNI had been created "to gather information at the national level that information at the national level that is needed for the adoption of measures for the preservation of the internal security of the citizenry."
A lawyer involved in human rights defense work said, "We have to wait and see whether human rights violations cease" as a result of the measure. He said Chilean courts remain restricted in their ability to scrutinize the conduct of government agents by the provision of the government agents by the provision of the state of siege that is still in force and that is is no known whether the identity of the CNI agents will be made known or kept secret as was the case with DINA.