Statement of Juan Garcés on the Pinochet arrest

01 December 2000
Article

The step taken today by Judge Guzman will hopefully lead to Pinochet's trial on the charges brought against him.

TNI and the Pinochet precedent

Statement of Juan Garcés regarding the indictment and arrest of Augusto Pinochet in the "Caravan of Death" case, Madrid, 1 December 2000

Today we have learned that Augusto Pinochet has been indicted and arrested on charges of kidnapping. These charges stem from his involvement in events now known as the "Caravan of Death". The indictment was issued this afternoon by Chilean judge Juan Guzman; Guzman took this step after he found evidence showing that Pinochet was the intellectual author of dozens kidnappings and killings carried out by a traveling crew of Chilean military officials inthe fall of 1973. The majority of victims were officials or supporters of the constitutional government that Pinochet overthrew earlier that year.Today's indictment is an important and very positive step forward in the search for justice by Pinochet's victims.

By deciding that Pinochet must be held legally responsible for the human rights crimes that he committed, Judge Guzman is following the example set by Pinochet's indictment here in Spain in October of 1998. Since that time, courts in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Argentina have also indicted Pinochet. These indictments, obtained as a result of universal or territorial jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, served Chilean authorities with further notice of their obligation to prosecute the offenses committed by Pinochet.

We are pleased that the proceedings against Pinochet here in Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the US and Argentina have emboldened the Chilean judiciary to order the indictment and detention of the worst criminal in Chile's history.

The step taken today by Judge Guzman will hopefully lead to Pinochet's trial on the charges brought against him. In this way, Pinochet's victims will finally obtain the justice that they have so long sought after. Unfortunately today's decision offers no guarantee that the cases against Pinochet in Chile will go forward as they should. Pinochet will now face new medical examinations required by Chilean law. These exams must be conducted impartially and with the participation of both parties. Irregularities, like those surrounding the medical examinations taken by Pinochet in London, must be avoided.

Today is an important day in the effort to achieve justice for Pinochet's victims. However, much still needs to be done before they will truly have achieved the justice that they deserve.