Chilean Officers Get Prison In Arms Deal Cover Up

Four former top army officials were sentenced to prison Monday in the murder of a colonel shortly after he testified about an illegal deal to smuggle weapons to Croatia.

The deal was exposed during the Balkan wars, when the United Nations outlawed weapons sales to Croatia. In December 1991, police in Hungary discovered 11 tons of weapons in a shipment labeled "humanitarian aid" that was allegedly approved by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who continued to head the army after his dictatorship ended in 1990.

Col. Gerardo Huber _ who directed purchases at the army's weapons manufacturer _ turned up dead shortly after testifying in a military investigation. His head had been blown apart by a blast from a machine gun. It was ruled a suicide for 13 years before the case was reopened in civilian court.

Two top military intelligence officials _ retired Gen. Victor Lizarraga and retired Col. Manuel Provis _ got 10 and eight years, respectively, for conspiracy and homicide. Gen. Carlos Krum and Col. Julio Munoz, also both retired, got nearly 2 years for conspiracy and murder, respectively.

Eleven other people were sentenced by a military court in June for their roles in the deal, but the identity of the gunman in Huber's murder remains unknown.

"There were many efforts to prevent Huber from testifying," Judge Claudio Pavez said. "And when one attempt after another failed, they reached the final decision _ Huber had to die."