The crimes of disappearance and torture which had been committed against the four victims who are at the centre of these proceedings reflect the extremely hierarchical system of command under this regime, and the major events that had happened under this dictatorship : the bombing of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda in which Salvador Allende committed suicide ; the systematic repression of opponents (including the activists of the revolutionary movement of the Left – MIR – and the actors of the agricultural reform launched by Allende in particular) ; the large-scale systematic torturing in torture centres, such as “London 38”, “Villa Grimaldi” or the “Colonia Dignidad” ; and the “Condor Plan” which was aimed at eliminating any opponents to the dictatorships of the Region.
Among the 14 suspects who will be put on trial in Paris will be General Manuel Contreras, ex-leader of DINA (the first secret police of the military regime of Chile). Augusto Pinochet himself was also being pursued in this case, but he passed away on December 10, 2006, a few weeks before the order of indictment passed by the French investigating judge Sophie Clément. A further four suspects died before the opening of these proceedings.
“These hearings will also enable several historic witnesses to be heard. Despite the death of General Pinochet, this trial will no less be a posthumous trial of the dictator, as well as the only one of the entire system of repression that was in place”, according to Maîtres William Bourdon, Sophie Thonon, Claude Katz and Benjamin Sarfati, lawyers to the victims and the civil parties.
“The detention of General Pinochet in London in 1998 enabled the proceedings, which had been initiated by the victims of the Chilean dictatorship, to be re-launched in Chile and abroad. Because of the non-applicability of the statute of limitation to these crimes, this trial goes beyond borders and contributes to the global fight against impunity. It is now hoped that the truth that will come out of this trial will be extended to Chile and that it will help to confront the reality of these crimes at long last”, commented Hiram Villagra and Federico Aguirre, lawyers of CODEPU in Chile.
FIDH-LDH-CODEPU Press kit on this case
For more information, please see the special "dossier" on the case, available on the FIDH website.