SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's Supreme Court has approved an extradition request for a former U.S. military officer wanted in the 1973 killings of two Americans, including one whose disappearance was the focus of the movie "Missing," a lawyer said Wednesday.
Former U.S. Navy Capt. Ray E. Davis was charged last year in the deaths of journalist Charles Horman and student Frank Teruggi, who were killed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Attorney Sergio Corvalan, who represents Horman's widow, told The Associated Press that the Supreme Court approved by a 4-1 vote a request by judge Jorge Zepeda to seek Davis' extradition to face trial in Chile.
A court official, who agreed to discuss the case only if not quoted by name, said the vote would be formally announced Thursday.
After Davis was charged a year ago, the AP contacted his wife, Patricia Davis, at her home in Niceville, Florida. She said her husband previously denied any involvement in killings. She said he no longer talked because of Alzheimer's disease and was in a nursing home that she declined to identify.
Davis commanded the U.S. military mission in Chile at the time of the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Marxist President Salvador Allende.
Corvalan said the ruling by the Supreme Court says Davis is "criminally responsible as author of the crimes of qualified homicide of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi." He added that a report by Supreme Court prosecutor Monica Maldonado says "a homicide was committed" that could have been prevented by Davis.
Davis was investigating the Americans as part of a series of covert intelligence operations by the U.S. Embassy in Santiago targeting those considered subversives or radicals, Corvalan said.
The Supreme Court considered the killings of the two Americans to be crimes against humanity, Corvalan said. A conviction on the charges against Davis carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison.
According to court papers, Horman, a freelance journalist and filmmaker, was arrested on Sept. 17, 1973, two weeks after the coup and taken to Santiago's main soccer stadium, which had been turned into a detention camp for Pinochet's suspected enemies. He was 31.
A national truth commission formed after the dictatorship ended said Horman was executed the next day while in the custody of Chilean state security agents.
The commission said Teruggi, then a 24-year-old university student, was executed on Sept. 22.
The search for Horman by his wife and his father was the topic of the 1982 movie "Missing," which starred Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon in the roles. The film won a best screenplay Oscar.
The film suggested U.S. complicity in Horman's death and at the time drew strong objections from U.S. State Department officials.
The case remained practically ignored in Chile until 2000, when Joyce Horman went to Chile and filed a lawsuit against Pinochet. She said she was acting on behalf of all victims of the dictatorship.
The truth commission has determined that 3,095 people were killed or "disappeared" by government agents.
Eva Vergara on Twitter: https://twitter.com/evergaraap