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Pinochet’s Trial, Chile’s Dignity

The court battle on whether or not to punish former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is now over. After prolonged reflection on medical reports regarding Pinochet’s health, Judge Juan Guzmán found him mentally fit to stand trial on nine counts of kidnapping and one count of homicide. Chile’s Supreme Court has now upheld that indictment. All of those crimes were committed during "Operation Condor," a Latin America-wide program among the continent’s dictators to physically eliminate their opponents on the left.

Judge Guzmán also determined that the former dictator is not insane and knows right from wrong. This is critical, as Pinochet has sought to deny his competency. A recent "vascular incident" that sent him to a military hospital – where he regained consciousness and motor skills – will furnish excuses to request new medical examinations and delays as criminal proceedings move forward.

But Guzmán’s efforts to bring the dictator to justice should not remain isolated. Other judges and official bodies need to keep the pressure on Pinochet.

Much, for example, is still to be learned in cases such as the assassination of General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires in 1974. Moreover, investigations by the US Congress into the Riggs Bank have uncovered the suspicious means by which Pinochet and his family obtained their wealth. These investigations need to be followed up with judicial action.