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  • Adriana Rivas spoke with SBS in 2013. (SBS)
The arrest of a Sydney woman wanted in Chile over kidnapping offences alleged to have been committed during the Pinochet dictatorship has drawn a strong response from victims' families.

20 Feb 2019 - 10:42 AM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2019 - 1:21 PM

Australian authorities on Tuesday arrested Sydney woman Adriana Rivas who is wanted in Chile over kidnapping offences alleged to have been committed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Ms Rivas briefly appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court via a video link on Wednesday. 

Bail was not applied for and formally refused.

Ms Rivas was part of the feared National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), the body led by Manuel Contreras and credited with thousands of deaths and kidnappings during Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990).

In 2013, she told SBS Spanish she was innocent of the charges but defended the use of torture in Chile at the time as necessary.

“They had to break the people – it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile," she told SBS Spanish.

In 2014, Chile made a request to Australia to extradite the Sydney-based nanny and cleaner, over her alleged involvement in the 1977 disappearance and murder of Víctor Diaz, the former Secretary General of the Communist Party, and six others. 

News of her arrest was received with "relief and satisfaction" by relatives of some of the victims, according to the lawyer representing them, Adriana Navarro. 

"We congratulate each other for this fact, but we also feel sadness for families, children and grandchildren and for people who have lost their loved ones because they were killed by the armed forces and Chilean security," Ms Navarro told SBS Spanish. 

She was arrested "pursuant to a request from the Republic of Chile for her extradition", a spokesperson for Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement. 

"This person is required to be prosecuted in the Republic of Chile for aggravated kidnapping offences," the spokesperson said. 

Chile's Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said the country's embassy in Canberra would follow proceedings "closely" and would support the decisions "of the Chilean justice [department], especially if they aim at human rights".

Ms Rivas moved to Australia in 1978.

She was detained in Chile in 2006 while on a visit but returned to Australia while on bail. 

Representatives of relatives and human rights activists in Australia have provided information to authorities in Chile in a process that has been ongoing for five years, Ms Navarro said.

"The truth is that this is the longest extradition we know of, I believe that there have been technical issues between the Chilean and Australian judicial systems since, for example, the charges had to be approved and it was also more difficult because official translations had to be done," Ms Navarro said. 

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Ms Navarro said despite the arrest, extradition may take years - drawing reference to Croatia's 10-year legal battle to secure the extradition of Perth-based Serbian paramilitary leader Dragan Vasiljković. 

"The truth is a question that is opened because it is not known if Adriana Rivas will give her consent to be extradited to Chile or will use all the review mechanisms opened by the extradition law," Ms Navarro said. 

Ms Navarro said the relatives of the victims felt "very optimistic" about the proceedings, which were adjourned until Friday, March 1. 

Ms Rivas was remanded in custody.