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Monday, July 17, 2006

Chile high court allows Pinochet 'Caravan of Death' case to proceed
Joe Shaulis at 3:55 PM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Chile [official website] has upheld a lower court's ruling stripping former dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archive] of immunity, allowing a homicide case against him to proceed. The court's public relations office announced Monday that the justices had voted to uphold the appellate court's decision [JURIST report], although they have not yet written an opinion. Pinochet may now be prosecuted for the firing-squad deaths of two bodyguards of former President Salvador Allende during the so-called Caravan of Death [BBC backgrounder] that followed the coup in which Pinochet seized power and Allende was killed. Pinochet was originally charged in the case in 2000, but the Chilean Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that he was unfit to stand trial because of dementia and other ailments. Last year, however, the court ruled [JURIST report] that Pinochet was not too ill to stand trial on other charges of human right abuses.

A judge questioned Pinochet this month [Prensa Latina report] in another Caravan of Death case. According to the plaintiff's lawyer, Pinochet claimed not to remember the killing at issue in that case but appeared to be lucid. Earlier this year, a Chilean judge announced indictments [JURIST report] and ordered the arrests of 13 retired military officers accused of directly participating in the Caravan of Death. Reuters has more. From Santiago, La Nacion has local coverage, in Spanish.

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