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No more immunity for Pinochet

Chilean court has withdrawn legal immunity from former bloody dictator Augusto Pinochet on the cases related to “Operation Condor - the intelligence network masterminded by Washington to repress South American opponents to dictatorships in the 1970s.
No good news for Pinochet – and for former US State Secretary Henry Kissinger.

Pinochet, who led the US supported bloody cup that ousted former Chilean democratic president Salvador Allende in 1973, could be prosecuted in connection with the disappearance of nine activists arrested in Argentina. That case was just one of the operations in the framework of Condor, by which dictators from Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay exchanged intelligence reports to kill opponents within each others borders.

According to reports from Santiago, the move could lead to a human rights trial against Pinochet if confirmed by the Supreme Court of Justice. "The withdrawal of legal immunity triggers (a case) of the disappearance of opponents of the military regime," said Juan Gonzalez Zuniga, president of the Supreme Court on Friday.

Independent experts say since Pinochet seized power in 1973 until his removal in 1990, at least 5,000 people were killed or disappeared. Some others are reported killed in other South American countries, mainly in Argentina. Pinochet was arrested in 2000 under the charges of crimes against humanity. He was prosecuted by Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon during his visit to England. British courts released him after stating Pinochet could not be tried due to medical condition.

Once back in Chile, Pinochet, 88, who has avoided trial for alleged human rights crimes on the grounds that he is mentally unfit, suffers from diabetes and dementia stemming from mild strokes, according to court-ordered medical tests.

Hernan Etchaleco

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