On Pinochet’s Arrest

The arrest of Augusto Pinochet a few days ago for torture during his dictatorship has received far less attention than I would’ve thought. From Human Rights Watch:

The arrest of former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who for the first time faces prosecution for torture, is a milestone in the struggle for justice in Chile, Human Rights Watch said today.

Pinochet is charged with the torture of 23 people, as well as the kidnapping of 34 and one homicide, which were carried out at a secret government detention center after he came to power in the 1973 military coup. The former dictator, who was placed under house arrest yesterday, is already being prosecuted on kidnapping charges in connection with the “disappearance” of 119 people in 1975. Until yesterday, Pinochet had never been charged with torture, which was a systematic practice throughout his rule.

The government-appointed National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture reported in 2004 that more than 18,000 people were tortured during the four months after the September 1973 coup, and another 5,266 people from January 1974 until August 1977.

“This is an important moment for the thousands of victims of torture in Chile,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “The man who ran the regime that brutalized them is finally being made to answer for these crimes.”