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Wife Of American Assassin Working For Pinochet Dies

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Chilean writer and convicted murderer, Mariana Callejas, spouse of American assassin Michael Townley, died on Tuesday at the age of 84 in an assisted living facility.

Callejas was convicted of the murder of former Chilean General Carlos Prats. The writer turned Chilean secret police case officer and assassin for the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), murdered Prats by detonating the car bomb that killed him and his wife in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Chile’s Supreme Court found Callejas guilty of killing the Prats and thereby sentenced her to 20 years behind bars in 2008 but this then became a mere five years of house arrest. Callejas’ husband, Townley, also participated in the Prats murders and is also infamous for the murder of former Foreign Affairs Minister Orlando Leteliet, also through a car bomb, in Washington D.C.

Townley, was forced out of Chile by the Pinochet regime and subsequently extradited to the United States in 1979 where he served five years in prison and then joined the Witness Protection Program. The Pinochet government which was in power from 1973 to 1990 after the overthrow of President Salvador Allende.

During Pinochet’s time leading his country, the DINA intelligence service was widely feared for its violent ways. It has been reported that while Callejas would host parties with her husband Townley, DINA officers would torture people considered enemies of the Chilean government.

John Dinges, a journalist who has specialized in understanding Pinochet’s Chile has said that Callejas, “was excited by all this, and it was a big adventure for her.” Dinges goes on to note that, “She was entirely without scruples. She didn’t seem to do it for ideological reasons.”

Callejas was cremated on Wednesday.

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