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Monday, May 05, 2008

Chilean Founder of IC-USTA Dies as Murder Suspect

Gerardo Rocha presided of a worldwide network of 33 universities

Gerardo Rocha (55), founder of the International Council of Universities of Saint Thomas Aquinas (IC-USTA) died on May 5, 2008 at the Indisa Clinic in Santiago, Chile. Rocha had been interned at this clinic in coma since February 21 of this year after an incident that occurred at the seaside resort of El Quisco, located 120 kilometers to the west of Santiago. According to the Chilean police, that day Rocha and two associates identified as Cesar Osores (a 33-year-old former police officer expelled from the force after killing an innocent civilian) and Marcelo Morales (39) broke into the home of Jaime Oliva in El Quisco. The three men began to beat up the 79 year old auctioneer and torture him with a tazer (an electronic device that sends 50,000 volt electroshocks into the body) after which Oliva passed out. Thinking that Oliva was dead, Rocha and Osores dragged the unconscious man to a room on the second floor and poured gasoline over his body. According to Morales, that was in the first floor, it was Gerardo Rocha that ignited the fuel causing a massive explosion. According to Morales, Rocha came running down the stairs with his body covered in flames and said, “I didn’t know that gasoline was so volatile”. Morales and Osores took Rocha in a car to a nearby hospital while the fire destroyed Jaime Oliva’s wooden holiday home. Forensic experts later declared that Oliva died from inhalation of carbon monoxide and that no traces of bullets were found in his body. Days later the police arrested Osores, Morales and Dante Yutronic, owner of a well-known store known as “La Casa del Espia” (the House of the Spy), that sells surveillance and self defense equipment. Yutronic is also a private investigator that Rocha had hired for US$100,000 to tail and investigate the life of Jaime Oliva, whom Rocha believed to be having an affair with his current wife, Veronica Espinoza. It seems that what finally triggered Rocha´s criminal impulse was a video given to him by Yutronic where a woman similar to Espinoza is seen entering Oliva´s house. Later the police proved that it was another woman that had gone to see Oliva at El Quisco. At present Yutronic is still in detention accused of selling Rocha the tazer and other weapons as well as the illegal surveillance carried out on Jaime Oliva and his family.
Why did the multimillionaire founder of a chain of 33 Universities with 500,000 students located in places as varied as Australia, Japan, Morocco and Mozambique and also a member of Mensa, (an organization formed in 1946 at Oxford University that only accepts individuals with high IQs) get involved in such a murder? According to the Chilean police, Gerardo Rocha already had a long history of psychopathic behavior. As a child, Rocha declared to his family that he had frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary and that he was destined to continue with the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Another trait of Rocha´s personality appeared at the age of 19 when he married his first wife Carla Haardt, whom he met while studying medicine at the Roman Catholic University, Chile´s most exclusive. According to Haardt, Rocha had constant fits of jealous anger and imagined that she was having an affair with another man.
In 1980, Rocha was charged in court after beating up a man that had given Carla Haardt a handbag as a present. Rocha was also physically abusive with Haardt and burnt the handbag in front of her. Rocha then tried to improve his relationship with his wife by seeking advice from a priest that belonged to the fundamentalist Roman Catholic “Opus Dei” organization that is extremely powerful in Chile.
Meanwhile, due to his influential contacts within the Pinochet regime, Gerardo Rocha´s educational project begins to prosper and in 1988 he is allowed to create the “Universidad Santo Tomas (UST)”. In the 1990s, Rocha takes a step further and creates the IC-USTA whose latest member country is China that allowed the University to set up a campus in November of 2007. Apart from the negative publicity created by the Rocha incident, the Universidad Santo Tomas (UST) is not in a very good legal situation in Chile since Dante Yutronic has also been accused of spying on the professors and employees of the university. The academic board and administrative employees union have filed a legal action against the UST for “illegal tapping of telephone conversations and undercover surveillance of UST employees”. Gerado Rocha´s personal fortune has been inherited by his daughter Karla Rocha that must face a compensation claim filed by the Oliva family for a total of US$5 million.

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