Thursday 3 September 2009

Mass murder - how justice works

Police in Chile have arrested 25 former officials for alleged involvement in President Pinochet’s campaign of torture and murder during the 1970’s and 80’s. Warrants are out for another 100. More than 3,000 people were murdered, more than 30,000 tortured, and more than 80,000 imprisoned without trial during Pinochet’s reign of terror.

His former chief of secret police, Manuel Contreras, is already serving a life sentence for murder, kidnap and torture.

Pinochet himself never stood trial. After he fell from power, he was arrested in London in 1998 at the request of the Spanish authorities who wanted to try him over torture of its citizens in Chile. In 2000, though, the UK authorities declared he was unfit to stand trial, and allowed him to go back to Chile.

There he was stripped of his immunity from prosecution, and a number of attempts were made to bring him to justice, but none had succeeded when he died in 2006. I am not sure how vociferously the United States protested at the UK’s decision to release this mass murderer on compassionate grounds. Perhaps readers of this blog can help.

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