Pinochet On Trial
Ding Dong the witch is dead! Or going on trial at least. More than 31 years after overthrowing the elected Salvador Allende (and establishing a reign of terror that was brutal even by Latin American standards), Chilean General Augusto Pinochet was indicted today on kidnapping and murder charges. Judge Juan Guzman announced the indictment after 3 months of questioning Pinochet, and having doctors determine whether his health can withstand a trial.
Pinochet was previously indicted in 2001 on murder charges stemming from his 1973-1990 reign, but the indictment was overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that he was mentally and physically “unfit” to stand trial. His lawyers are making that claim again today, and are expected to appeal today’s indictment on the same grounds. (Presumably all of Pinochet’s political prisoners were thoroughly examined by physicians and received a clean bill of health before having electrodes jammed into their unmentionables.)
Judge Guzman based his decision on the reports of three doctors who examined Pinochet, and from transcripts of a Spanish language interview (indicating full mental alertness) which Pinochet gave to a Miami TV station.
Earlier this month, an appeals court stripped Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for a 1974 car bombing that killed exiled Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires. The exiled general had opposed the 1973 coup that put fellow general Pinochet in power, and was among the first of an estimated several thousand people killed during Pinochet’s rule.
Pinochet is 89. Here’s hoping he’ll be sentenced to a looong jail term, and be in good enough health to enjoy every day of it.