Latin America: the end of immunity

20 September 2004 by INGRID SEYMAN

The tide seems to have turned for former South American dictators. Argentina's Supreme Court has just accepted the imprescriptibility of a crime against humanity, while in Chile a trial looks likely for Augusto Pinochet after the former dictator was stripped of his immunity on 26 August.

The Supreme Court in Santiago stripped Pinochet of the special immunity he has enjoyed until now, thus clearing the way for charges to be brought against the ex-dictator in the case known as "Operation Condor". Although the Supreme Court confirmed the Appeals Court's judgement of 28 May, 2004, the news came as a bombshell in Chile. Back in August 2000, the same Chilean court stripped Pinochet of his immunity for the first time, allowing judge Juan Guzman Tapia to indict the General in the "Caravan of Death" case. Pinochet narrowly escaped having to face the charges in Chilean courts after medical examinations deemed him unfit for trial. On 9 July 2001, the Santiago Appeals Court decided to shelve the trial on grounds that Pinochet was suffering mild dementia and was therefore not fit to defend himself. A year later, the Supreme Court ratified the ruling, decreeing that the elderly man's dementia was "irrevocable".

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.