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26 April 1999

Chilean Arms Dealer

A civil court in Iquique, Chile, has ordered Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen to pay total compensation of $175 million pesos (some $350,000) to the families of 11 people killed in a 1986 explosion at one of his factories. A total of 28 people died when 1,500 units of explosives intended for cluster bomb construction blew up on Jan. 25, 1986, at Plant #3 of Industria Cardoen, S.A., in Tarapaca, Chile's northernmost region. The bodies of the 23 people working in the immediate area where the explosion took place were completely disintegrated by the blast, which created a mushroom cloud visible from the regional capital, Iquique, 18 kilometers away. Cardoen's company was cleared of any wrongdoing in criminal trials for a lack of evidence. But the families of 11 of the 28 victims pushed forward with a series of civil lawsuits. [La Tercera 4/5/99; El Nuevo Herald 4/6/99]

[Cardoen was indicted in the US in 1993 for illegally selling cluster bombs to Iraq. Cardoen insisted that the US government knew of and approved of the sales; former National Security Council official Howard Teicher filed an affidavit in January 1995 confirming that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped Cardoen sell cluster bombs to Iraq in the mid-1980s. The US never attempted to extradite Cardoen.

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