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Pinochet loses immunity and can be tried for his crimes

Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, could be tried for crimes against humanity and corruption, after Chile’s Supreme Court dismissed his immunity as former President.
Prosecutors found new Pinochet secret accounts in US banks.

The Chilean Supreme Court stripped on Thursday, Augusto Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution and now, one of the bloodiest dictators in South America’s history can be tried for crimes against humanity and corruptions. Courts were expected to rule favourably on a lower decision stripping Gen. Pinochet of immunity, saying the former dictator should face justice for past human rights abuses.

According to sources in Santiago, Chile’s capital, lawyers want to question Pinochet for alleged crimes committed as part of the Operation Condor, a reputed plan by South American military dictatorships to suppress dissidents starting in the 1970s. As part of the Operation Condor, Pinochet’s rule ordered the assassination of democratic Gen. Carlos Prats, in Buenos Aires in 1974, with the collaboration of Argentine special services.

With this unprecedented rule in Chilean justice, the high court upheld by a single vote (9 to 8) a May 28 decision of the Santiago Appeals Court to lift Pinochet's immunity, which was granted him in his capacity as a former president. Courts also dismissed Pinochet lawyers’ argument that he is mentally and physically unfit to stand trial. Pinochet made recently a couple of public appearances: he could be seen buying books in a centric shop of Santiago by his own.

Relatives or friends of the nearly 3,200 people officially reported as missing or dead from Pinochet's bloody rule keep on claiming for his trial, as conservative groups block any initiative to review what is considered one of the darkest chapters of Latin America’s recent history. Court’s rule to strip Pinochet's immunity allows the judge handling the case to try him.

Prosecutors argue there was credible evidence that repressive actions by Chile's notorious former secret police apparatus (DINA) were undertaken at the behest of his dictatorship, as an investigating judge, Juan Guzman, had argued for removing Pinochet's immunity in connection with the disappearances of 17 Chilean nationals reported missing under Operation Condor.

Hernan Etchaleco

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