New legal chapter opens in Pinochet case

07 June 2004 by INGRID SEYMAN

On 28 May 2004, the Santiago court of appeal stripped former military leader Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution. If the Chilean Supreme Court confirms this ruling, the 88-year old ex-dictator could stand trial for his part in Operation Condor, a coordinated campaign in the 1970s by several Latin American military dictatorships to assassinate hundreds of suspected opponents.

When the Santiago Supreme Court ruled on 1 July 2002 that Augusto Pinochet's health was too frail for him to appear in court, the chances of ever seeing the former dictator stand trial in Chile looked minuscule. Indeed, over the last two years, the appeal court rejected two separate requests to strip Augusto Pinochet of his immunity, on the grounds that the Supreme Court had already ruled on the case. Pinochet's "mild dementia", diagnosed in 2002, seemed to be shielding him from any legal proceedings in his country.

"I have nothing whatsoever to apologise for" says Augusto Pinochet

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