SANTIAGO, Chile — A former Nazi soldier who founded a secretive, commune-like colony of German immigrants died Saturday in a Chilean prison where he was serving time for child molestation and human rights abuses dating to the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Paul Schaefer, 89, died of heart failure caused by severe constriction of the aorta, the corrections department said in a statement.

Schaefer emigrated to Chile in 1961 and started the Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony, a strictly regimented enclave 210 miles south of the capital, Santiago, that was home to several hundred Germans and Chileans.

According to witnesses’ testimony in court documents, Schaefer allowed Pinochet’s security forces to run a clandestine prison on the grounds where they tortured and executed dissidents during the 1973-1990 military dictatorship.

Colonia Dignidad members say he ruled them cruelly as well. Married couples were forced to live apart, and children separated from parents. Residents were prevented from leaving. Those who angered Schaefer were subject to electric shocks, high doses of tranquilizers and long periods of isolation.

Many “became real slaves of Schaefer, like robots dedicated only to obey his orders and not displease him,” members said in a newspaper ad they took out in 2006 acknowledging human rights abuses at the colony and asking for forgiveness.

There were also dozens of allegations of child molestation, leading Schaefer to flee in 1997; he was arrested in Argentina in 2005 and extradited back to Chile the same year.

Schaefer was convicted in 2006 of sexually abusing 20 children who attended the colony’s school and clinic. He was sentenced to 20 years, plus three more years for an illegal weapons conviction.

In two separate cases in 2008, Schaefer received more prison time for the torture of seven colony residents and for the fatal poisoning of a renegade security agent during the dictatorship.

He was also investigated for tax evasion.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said Saturday that while Schaefer lived to serve only a fraction of his prison terms, he will now face “a divine justice.”

Schaefer’s adopted daughter, Rebeca Schaefer, is asking for him to be buried in the German colony’s cemetery, but there was no immediate word on whether the community would allow it.