The Chilean government yesterday claimed it has no record of the existence of two Chilean men linked by U.S. investigators to the 1976 car-bombing murder in Washington of former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier.
The denial came in the face of the U.S. Embassy's disclosure that the Chilean Foreign Ministry sent it a letter on Aug. 17, 1976 requesting that the two men be granted visas to travel on "official" government passports to the United States.
The U.S. Embassy said that in accordance with normal diplomatic practice, it issued A-2 visas - which are reserved for diplomats and officials on government business - to Juan Williams Rose, 28, and Alejandro Romeral Jara, 26.
According to U.S. documents, the two men - believed to be Chilean secret police agents - entered the United States a month before the murders of Letelier and an aide at the Institute for Policy Studies, Ronni Moffitt, who were killed when a bomb blew up their car on Sheridan Circle NW in September 1976.
But the Chilean government - which has been asked by the United States to produce the two men for questioning - said yesterday it had no record of their existence.
A government spokesman, noting earlier denials of the Chilean army, navy and air force that either of the men were listed as past or present members of the armed forces, said that also meant they were not members of the secret police.
Moreover, the government claimed that neither man's name was in the records of the National Identification Service, which issues identification cards of all adult civilians.
In Washington, investigative sources said that sicne the two men had previously used false information to obtain visas from a U.S. Embassy in another country before getting the visas on official Chilean passports, tehre was no indication that the names used in CHile were the men's real names.
But a U.S. Embassy spokesman siad the Chilean Foreign Ministry requested the visas in the names of Williams and Romeral, who had been isseud official passports that same day.
Another diplomatic sources explained: "If there is an official request, they are in one way or another connected to the government. If you are given an official passport it means the government espouses you."
The vice minister of foreign affairs, Gen. Enrique Valdes Puga, declined to confirm the embassy's information when asked by reporters about the official passports and requests for official visas.
"We don't want to say anything for the moment because we don't want to interfere with the judicial action that will be initiated," Valdes said.
The U.S. Court request, containing a seal list of questions for the two men, has not yet been handed over to the Chilean government, Valdes said.
The Chilean Embassy in Washington acknowledged earlier this week its receipt of the request.
Valdes added that his government has pledged complete cooperation and the documents will be turned over to the Supreme Court for execution on arrival.
U.S. investigators in Washington aid the two men were believed to be members of the military and also of the Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA), the Chilean security police that was replaced last August by a similar organization called the National Information Center. Agents' names are secret.
A lawyer who is a veteran of the hundreds of human rights cases presented each year to the Chilean courts said that of numerous court attempts to subpoena security poolice agents or learn their identities, virtually all have met with government refusal on grounds of national security.
Letelier served as ambassador to the United States and later in various cabinet posts in the leftist government of President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a 1973 [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Gen. Augusto Pinochet.