Alfonso Michaud Podlech was the first lawyer of Augusto Pinochet after the coup d’état of 11 September 1973. He was also a member of “Patria y Libertad”, an extreme right wing political movement. After the coup d’état, Podlech was appointed head of the Military Prosecutor Office in Temuco.
After the introduction of martial law during the Pinochet regime, Podlech was in charge of the so-called “Martial Courts” in the Malleco-Cautin region. The Martial Courts were so-called legal trials for political prisoners and alleged opponents of the military regime.
Among his alleged victims was Omar Venturelli Leonelli, an Italian-Chilean citizen and professor of education at the Catholic University of Temuco, Chile. Venturelli was apprehended for his commitment to defending the lands of the native Mapuche population. He was officially apprehended on 25 September 1973. In October 1973, Venturelli was brought to the Temuco prison. According to witnesses, he was last seen alive there on 4 October 1973, although, allegedly, an official document signed by Podlech noted that Venturelli had been released on the previous day.
Hernán Henríquez Aravena
Another alleged victim was the surgeon Hernán Henríquez Aravena, who was director of the regional hospital of Temuco, Chile. On the night of 12 or 13 September 1973, Henríquez Aravena’s home was searched by the “Carabineros” and he was taken away and transferred to the Tucapel Regiments. On the next day, the Military Prosecutor of Temuco ordered his house arrest and ordered him to appear in the military court on 25 September.
However, on 24 September Henríquez Aravena’s house was raided again. He was subsequently taken away for a second time by the “Carabineros”. On 5 October 1973 it was reported by the military that Henríquez Aravena had been executed at the Maquehua Air Base in Temuco, Chile after an alleged attempt to escape. A military record of Henríquez Aravena’s investigation was never found.
Jaime Eltit Spielman
Another one of Podlech’s alleged victims was Jaime Eltit Spielman, a lawyer and a militant member of the “Juventud Radical de Chile”, the youth wing of the Chilean “Partido Radical” (Radical Party). Eltit was arrested in Santiago on 13 September 1973 by members of a military patrol. He was apprehended in the street. Eltit was first detained in the Tacna Regiment. The next day, he was moved to an apartment building, where he was controlled by telephone. During his detention in the apartment, he was visited by his brother Ricardo Eltit. On 6 October 1973, Eltit was transferred by train to Temuco. He was held at the Tacna Regiment, where he was visited again by his brother and by several others, and allegedly showed signs of physical mistreatment. Eltit disappeared from Temuco six days later and traces of his whereabouts were lost on 13 October 1973. His remains have not been recovered.
“Asalto al polvorín del regimiento Tucapel” case
Podlech is also allegedly responsible for the death of seven Communist Party militants. In the night of 10 November 1973, Juan Chávez, Pedro Mardones, Amador Montero, and Juan Ruiz, all students of the Technical University of the State of Temuco, besides Florentino Molina, worker, Víctor Valenzuela, auxiliary and Carlos Aillañir, agricultural worker, were taken from the Tucapel Regiment of Temuco, where they were all being held. They were loaded on a military vehicle and transferred to a shooting range in the military compound Isla Cautin, where they were tied up and executed. The incident became known as “asalto al polvorín del regimiento Tucapel” (assault on the Tucapel Regiment ammunitions).