Pinochet Brought to Trial

A timeline of significant judicial developments from the filing of the first criminal complaint against Augusto Pinochet to the present.





20 JANUARY 1998

The Santiago Court of Appeals accepts the first criminal complaint against Commander in Chief of the Army Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. The legal action is filed by Communist Party President Gladys Marin for the abduction and disappearance of her husband Jorge Muñoz Poutays and four other Communist leaders from Conference Street in 1976. The suit is the first ever to be filed against the former dictator for the violation of human rights during the military regime he headed. Judge Juan Guzman is appointed by the Court to investigate the case.

6 MARCH 1998

The Army names Augusto Pinochet "Honorary Commander-in-Chief," pledging absolute loyalty to the man who led the institution since August 1973 when Salvador Allende appointed him.

10 MARCH 1998

After 25 years heading the institution and 17 years heading the military regime, General Pinochet formally retires from the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Army. He is succeeded by General Ricardo Izurieta, during a ceremony presided by Chilean President Eduardo Frei.

11 MARCH 1998

Pinochet swears in as lifetime senator, a position created in the Constitution of 1980 drafted by the military regime. Outside the Congress building, thousands of demonstrators express their opposition. More than 500 people are arrested and 34 injured during protests in Valparaiso, seat of the National Congress, and in other cities throughout the country.

17 MARCH 1998

Eleven deputies of the Socialist Party and the Party for Democracy file a constitutional accusation against former Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet. Founded on articles 48 and 49 of the Constitution, the writ charges that Pinochet seriously compromised national honor and security through his actions as well as his failure to act.

9 APRIL 1998

The Chamber of Deputies rejects the constitutional accusation against Pinochet, when al 11 deputies of the Party for Democracy join the opposition parties in voting down the initiative by 62 votes.

16 OCTOBER 1998

Upon orders from Judge Nicholas Evans acting on a petition from Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon, agents of Scotland Yard arrest lifetime senator Augusto Pinochet in London Clinic, where he is receiving medical exams. Baltazar Garzon requests extradition of Pinochet to Spain to stand trial for the murder of Spanish citizens killed in Chile during the military regime.

22 OCTOBER 1998

Judge Bartle issues a second arrest warrant, expanding the initial arrest order. Upon request from Baltasar Garzon, the second order for arrest is founded upon five types of crimes: torture, conspiracy with third parties to commit acts of torture, abduction, conspiracy to abduct, and conspiracy with third parties to commit murder in a country of Europe.

28 OCTOBER 1998

The three judges of the High Court accept the arguments of the Pinochet defense and declare the initial arrest warrant null and void as the crime charged is not subject to extradition. The High Court accepts the second arrest warrant, while stating that Pinochet is protected by sovereign immunity.


The House of Lords begins appeals. Defense attorneys affirm that Pinochet enjoys sovereign immunity, but could be brought to trial in Chile. The British prosecutor argues that the charges against Pinochet involve criminal conduct prohibited by the 1925 Constitution of Chile, in effect until 1980. He further sustains that only as of June 1974 did Pinochet become Chief of State of Chile.

11 NOVEMBER 1998

President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle convenes the National Security Council (Cosena, which is composed of the commanders-in-chief of the Armed Forces and) to analyze the impact of the arrest of Pinochet in London.

19 NOVEMBER 1998

The United Nations Commission against Torture recommends that England bring Pinochet to trial in that country if it does not grant extradition to Spain.

25 NOVEMBER 1998

The Law Lords, in 3 votes over 2, revoke the decision of the High Court, denying the former Commander-in-Chief sovereign immunity. The decision on whether to allow the extradition is in hands of Home Secretary Jack Straw.


Under police guard, Pinochet moves to a private residence in the district of Virginia Water.


Pinochet’s defense attorneys request that the House of Lords review and revise its ruling of November 25, contest the competency of Lord Leonard Hoffman for his association with Amnesty International.


Home Secretary Jack Straw makes known that he has authorized the opening of the extradition process. Straw bases his decision on four crimes, which are extraditable. He further holds that sovereign immunity does not apply, nor do considerations for Pinochet’s age or state of health bar standing trial for these crimes.

10 DECEMBER 1998

The House of Lords accepts the appeal petition from the defense and appoints a new Lords Appellate Commission to resolve the situation.

10 DECEMBER 1998

Chile withdraws its Ambassador to Great Britain, Mario Artaza.

11 DECEMBER 1998

Pinochet appears before Judge Graham Parkinson, who informs the former Commander-in-Chief that he will direct extradition proceedings to Spain for torture, conspiracy to commit murder, abduction, and conspiracy to commit abduction. Pinochet’s only reply is: "I do not recognize the jurisdiction of any court except those of my country to judge me for all the falsehoods the Spanish gentlemen have said about me. That is all I have to say."

17 DECEMBER 1998

The House of Lords Appellate Commission accepts the appeal filed by Pinochet defense and voids the resolution, given that Hoffman failed to inform of his ties to Amnesty International. The House of Lords must appoint new judges to hear the appeal.


Return to top




18-30 JANUARY 1999

The Pinochet case reopens before a new seven-member Appellate Committee chosen from the House of Lords, presided by Lord Browne-Wilkinson. Attorney Claire Montgomery represents Pinochet, while Lawrence Collins argues on behalf of the government of Chile, invoking immunity of the State of Chile and diplomatic immunity of Chiefs of State and former Chiefs of State.

24 MARCH 1999

In a six to one vote, the Appellate Committee finds that Pinochet does not enjoy full immunity from prosecution, opening the way for the extradition proceedings. The Law Lords restrict the scope of charges which may be invoked to crimes covered under the Convention Against Torture, which have been committed after December 8, 1988, date the United Kingdom ratified the Convention.

26 MARCH 1999

The COSENA (National Security Council of Chile) meets to analyze the ruling. It reaffirms support for Pinochet and the principles of law sustained by the State of Chile: state immunity, territoriality, and that criminal law may not be applied retroactively.

30 MARCH 1999

Judge Baltazar Garzon adds another 30 cases of torture that occurred after September 1988, and contends that forced disappearance is a permanent crime.

The Pinochet defense team again invokes the principle of diplomatic immunity, the lack of absolute proof of direct participation in cases of torture, and charge that the Baltazar Garzon is taking unfair advantage of the British judicial system to add new cases of torture not originally included in his case.

15 APRIL 1999

British Home Secretary Jack Straw authorizes the extradition hearing. His decision is founded upon the serious nature of the violations to the Convention Against Torture, the judicial soundness of the cases Spain presented, and the decision of the Lords that Pinochet does not have immunity in cases of torture.

17 APRIL 1999

Army Commander-in-Chief Ricardo Izurieta travels to London to express his solidarity and support to Pinochet.

26 MAY 1999

The Pinochet defense loses its challenge to Straw’s decision.

4 JUNE 1999

Judge Graham Parkinson approves extradition proceedings, and sets September 27 for opening the hearing.


Chile Foreign Relations Minister Jose Miguel Insulza states that Pinochet traveled to England as Honorary Ambassador to serve a special mission on behalf of the Chilean government.

20 OCTOBER 1999

Inzulza’s statement gives rise to a criminal suit for falsification of public documents. Attorney Julia Urquieta files the complaint on behalf of the National Human Rights Assembly, a coalition of human rights organizations, in the Third Criminal Court of Santiago.


Return to top




2 JANUARY 2000

Judge Juan Guzman indicts Pinochet as author of the crimes of abduction and first degree murder committed by the "Caravan of Death," a military entourage that traveled through various parts of the country in 1973, and summarily executed political prisoners. Guzman must investigate more than 240 complaints against Pinochet, involving crimes committed during his regime, from 1973 to 1990.

5 JANUARY 2000

Pinochet enters Northwick Park Hospital where he undergoes 6 hours of physical and psychological exams requested by the government of Chile.

8 JANUARY 2000

Pinochet’s defense attorney in Spain, Fernando Escardo, files a habeas corpus writ before the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal.

10 JANUARY 2000

British Home Secretary Jack Straw announces the results of the medical and psychological exams. He states that the "...unequivocal and unanimous conclusion of the three doctors and the neuro-psychologists is the recent deterioration of the state of health of senator Pinochet, which appears to have occurred primarily during September and October of 1999, prevents him from standing trial at the present time nor can any change in his condition be expected." Straw adds that "... there is no sense to carry forth with the present extradition proceedings and therefore, I am compelled to make the decision not to extradite Senator Pinochet." Straw adds that his final decision will be taken , within a period of 7 days after studying claims which have been added to Spain's original extradition request, from the governments of France, Belgium, and Switzerland, in addition to Amnesty International, the Medical Foundation for Care to Victims of Torture, the Redress Trust, the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared of Chile, and Human Rights Watch.

17 JANUARY 2000

The government of Spain conveys Judge Baltasar Garzon’s reservations regarding the decision taken by Straw. Judge Garzon holds that reference cannot be made to Pinochet’s state of health unless the medical reports are disclosed. He requests new medical exams with participation of Spanish medical authorities.

25 JANUARY 2000

The government of Belgium and human rights organizations represented by Amnesty International file writs with the High Court requesting judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision. They also demand that the decision be implemented carried out only upon prior public disclosure of the medical exams, sworn declaration by the doctors who conducted the examinations, new exams with Belgium doctors and in the presence of observers from both parties to the case.

31 JANUARY 2000

Magistrate Maurice Kay, upon hearing the arguments on January 26 and 27, rejects both petitions. He indicates that Belgium and Amnesty International lack probable cause to demand judicial review, as British law gives the Home Secretary autonomy to adopt the decision he sees fit. The magistrate concludes that it is not appropriate either to disclose the medical reports or to conduct new medical examinations.

15 FEBRUARY 2000

The High Court rules that Home Secretary Jack Straw has authority to adopt the decision he deems proper. The High Court also rules that the four countries (Spain, Belgium France and Switzerland) that requested extradition of Pinochet must receive copies of the medical reports under condition of strict confidentiality and must convey their observations to Straw within 7 days.

22 FEBRUARY 2000

The four countries that requested extradition of Pinochet send their observations to Home Secretary Straw. France, Spain and Belgium question the severity of the state of health of Pinochet as determined by the British doctors and request new examinations to be conducted by professionals from their respective countries. Switzerland insists on its petition to extradite Pinochet, as the European Extradition Treaty does not contemplate immunity for reasons of health.

2 MARCH 2000

Home Secretary Jack Straw announces his decision not to extradite Pinochet to Spain and his decision not to allow the petitions of Switzerland, Belgium and France. Therefore, he authorizes the release of Augusto Pinochet. That same day, Pinochet travels in a Chile Air Force jet back to Chile, having spent 503 days under arrest in London.

2 MARCH 2000

Attorneys in the Caravan of Death case (Hugo Gutierrez, Eduardo Contreras, Carmen Hertz, Hiram Villagra, Alfonso Insunza, Boris Paredes, and Juan Bustos) file before Judge Juan Guzman a request to strip Pinochet of congressional immunity and allow prosecution of criminal actions committed by the Caravan of Death. They charge Pinochet as abettor of the executions committed by that military entourage.

3 MARCH 2000

At 10:30 AM, Augusto Pinochet descends from the plane that returned him to Santiago. He is received by a military band and parade headed by Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Ricardo Izurieta, the commanders-in-chief of the Navy and Air Force, Carabineros police director as well as political leaders of the right.

9 MARCH 2000

Chile’s Court of Appeals confirms the indictment and arrest of Augusto Pinochet, accused of the deaths and disappearances of 76 opponents to his regime, but reduces the charges. The Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 vote, rejects the appeal filed by the defense team of the retired general, but reduced the charges against him from "author" to ''abettor'' of the crimes he is accused of committing.

The ruling states: ''Facts and circumstances, which have come to light in this case, constitute probable cause that the accused (...) participated in the crimes (...) as accomplice."

The president of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, Viviana Diaz reacted to the ruling as follows: "The facts have proven that Pinochet is abettor of 57 homicides and 18 aggravated abductions. Today’s ruling seeks to protect him from facing those charges by reducing the possible penalties."

The Court of Appeals did not detail its reasons for reducing the charge of author to cover-up. However, court officials indicate as grounds for maintaining the case a document written in Pinochet’s handwriting that gives evidence of his knowledge of the crimes.

30 MARCH 2000

Retired Army Colonel Gustavo Collao, defense attorney for Pinochet, files a motion in which he sustains that his client’s ill health renders him incapable of defending himself in court. He accompanies the motion with conclusions from the medical examinations that provided the grounds for British Home Secretary Straw’s determination that Pinochet was not fit to stand trial.

3 APRIL 2000

The State Defense Council, represented by its president Clara Czczaranski files a brief that sustains that sufficient evidence exists to believe that Pinochet acted at the very least as abettor of the crimes committed by the Caravan of Death. She added that only upon conclusion of the investigation is it appropriate to discuss medical reasons for exempting him of penal responsibility.

25 APRIL 2000

Commander-in-Chief of the Army Ricardo Izurieta informs President Ricardo Lagos of the Army’s concern for how the legal case is affecting Pinochet.

26-29 APRIL 2000

Hearings open concerning Pinochet's congressional immunity. The five plaintiff attorneys of the Caravan of Death case present their cases. They found their reasoning on the position Pinochet held as Army Commander-in-Chief and that he had knowledge of the criminal actions committed by the military delegation led by Sergio Arellano Stark, and of the existence of a policy of political repression of the government under his command.

State Defense Council president Clara Czczaranski sustains that Pinochet had involvement in the criminal actions under investigation. She also urges the courts to respect equality under the law and to confer the same humanitarian considerations to other persons affected by ill health who are charged with crimes.

On behalf of Pinochet, attorney Ricardo Rivadeneira contends that obliging his client to stand trial despite ill health is a violation of due process as he is unable to participate in the defense strategy. The defense attorney also sustained that facts fail to establish the participation of Pinochet in the criminal actions and that the 72 victims are not disappeared persons but rather "… persons who were executed, dead, and disappeared bodies…"

23 MAY 2000

The Court of Appeals meets to vote on whether to deprive Pinochet of congressional immunity. Thirteen judges vote in favor of depriving him of congressional immunity, prevailing over 9 who voted to uphold protection against prosecution.

25 MAY 2000

The Court of Appeals rules to permanently suspend the case involving the alleged falsification of Pinochet’s passport. The Court accepts the reasoning of Foreign Relations Minister Insulza who recognizes that the request to designate Pinochet for a special mission originated from the Army, as the British arms manufacturer, Royal Ordinance, had extended him a formal invitation to tour its latest defense projects.

19-21 JULY 2000

The full Supreme Court opens appeals hearings related to the removal of congressional immunity approved by the Santiago Court of Appeals.

The hearing begins with argumentation of defense attorney Rivadeneira, who contends that Pinochet is innocent of charges. He repeats the argument that the cases pertain to homicides, which, unlike abductions, are subject to statutes of limitation,.

Plaintiff attorneys further the argumentation they presented previously before the Court of Appeals.

25 JULY 2000

With 11 votes over 9, the Supreme Court rejects the petition set forth by Pinochet defense to conduct physical and mental exams prior to deciding on the appeal requested by.

8 AUGUST 2000

The full Supreme Court, in a vote of 14 over 6, Guzman in court, the Sixth Chamber of the Court of Appeals opens appeals hearing related to the medical tests.


The Sixth Chamber of the Court of Appeals unanimously upholds the request for mental and neurological testing of Pinochet. The following day, Judge Guzman determines that the governmental agency Medical Legal Service must conduct these tests and issue the results within one month. He sets the Military Hospital as site for the tests, over objections of the plaintiffs who contend the Hospital collaborated with Pinochet's military regime.


Judge Guzman charges Pinochet as co-author of the crimes of aggravated abduction and first degree murder in the cases of 75 persons executed by the Caravan of Death. The cases include 18 executed persons whose remains had not been located as well as the 57 located, identified and given to the corresponding families.


Army Commander-in-Chief Ricardo Izurieta meets with Vice President Jose Miguel Insulza and Defense Minister Mario Fernandez.


Defense attorneys file a habeas corpus brief. They contend Pinochet’s freedom is threatened by violations to law incurred by Guzman and request suspension of the indictment order.


Defense attorneys file a motion to prevent notification of Pinochet of his house arrest.


After four days of hearings, the Fifth Chamber of the Court accepts the habeas corpus brief and revokes the order to indict for failure to comply with the requirement of a prior interrogatory statement.


The First Chamber of the Court of Appeals rules that the appeal is inadmissible because of the failure to submit to medical testing.

Judge Guzman sets January 22, 2001 for the medical and psychological tests at the Military Hospital.


Pinochet defense attorneys file a writ with the Supreme Court in which they accuse Guzman of unnecessarily postponing medical testing in order to damage their client.


Return to top




2 JANUARY 2001

Juan Guzman sets medical testing of Pinochet for January 1 and 8 at the Military Hospital. He asks Pinochet to indicate his choice of location for the interrogatory session.

Defense attorney Pablo Rodriguez announces that he has recommended that his client Pinochet not submit to medical testing due to infringement of legal procedures and lack of due process guarantees.

2 JANUARY 2001

The State Security Council (COSENA) convenes and requests application of the Amnesty Law in its "original spirit" in all human rights cases.

5 JANUARY 2001

The full Supreme Court declares inadmissible the writ filed by Pinochet defense on December 29.

The same day, Pinochet defense attorneys file another motion requesting postponement of the date for medical tests. They claim Judge Guzman has committed irregularities such as allegedly leaking confidential documents to the press, sending a letter of support to the State Defense Council president and unnecessarily delaying procedures.

6 JANUARY 2001

The prosecution requests preventive imprisonment of Pinochet for failure to confirm the location for testifying before Guzman.

7 JANUARY 2001

Just as the defense attorneys had warned, Pinochet does not show up at the Military Hospital for the medical exams.

8 JANUARY 2001

The First Chamber of the Court of Appeals rejects the petition to suspend proceedings.

Later the same day, Guzman rejects the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant and sets January 10 to 13 for medical exams and January 15 for the interrogatory session.

10 JANUARY 2001

Pinochet arrives at the Military Hospital to undergo medical testing, which continue until January 13, as ordered by Judge Guzman.

The Supreme Court rejects the petition to suspend the procedure and declares inadmissible the request from the defense to remove Guzman from the case.

15 JANUARY 2001

Medical experts present Guzman a preliminary report on the state of Pinochet's health. In following days the medical psychiatrist Dr. Pedro Fornazzari declares the report was altered in order to make Judge Guzman believe that the mental ailments of Pinochet are more serious than they are in reality. Although the official medical report says Pinochet suffers from moderate dementia psychiatrist Fornazzari reveals that the original conclusion, determined by consensus, was that his condition is a light to moderate arteriosclerosis.

23 JANUARY 2001

The interrogatory session with Pinochet previously postponed due to alleged incapacity of the ex dictator finally takes place. Pinochet testifies before Judge Guzman that Sergio Arellano Stark's tour was intended to speed up judicial proceedings and denies having ordered the execution of any prisoner. Pinochet acknowledges as his authorship a note to Gen. Joaquin Lagos, commander Antofagasta in 1973, ordering him to change a report that confirms 53 executions carried out under his order.

In an attempt to place the blame on Lagos, he states that the commanders of the various regiments held responsibility for War Council proceedings.

Retired general Joaquin Lagos publicly rejects Pinochet's accusations and describes in detail the executions of the Caravan of Death that took place in his jurisdictional zone. Lagos also affirms that Arellano's designation as Official Delegate of the Army Commander-in-Chief vested him with authority that only Pinochet could confer.

29 JANUARY 2001

Judge Guzman issues order to indict Pinochet for his role as intellectual author of the crimes of abduction and first degree murder of 57 persons and as author of the aggravated abduction of another 18 persons, all victims of the Caravan of Death. The ruling orders house arrest of Pinochet as of January 31, 2001 at his country property of Los Boldos.

The ruling rejects the prosecution's petition to charge Pinochet also for torture, illegal interment and removal, and illicit association. It also denies the request from the defense to temporarily suspend the trial. The judge also reaches the conclusion that the mental health of Pinochet is "diminished" but not "extinguished" and in any event does not impede his capacity to defend himself.

13 FEBRUARY 2001

Appeals hearings begin before the Summer First Chamber of the Court of Appeals.

Defense attorney Pablo Rodriguez refute the charges against Pinochet, reiterating the position that Arellano's mission was only to facilitate the proceedings and that Pinochet was never informed of the crimes committed. He repeats the also well known allegation of the defense that zone commanders were responsible for investigating the homicides and as such the former general Joaquin Lagos holds responsibility for the executions.

Plaintiff attorneys further develop their position that the order to execute the prisoners came from Pinochet, who could not have ignored the violation of human rights throughout the country.

12 MARCH 2001

Judge Juan Guzman grants Pinochet conditional liberty under parole.

14 MARCH 2001

The Fifth Chamber of the Court of Appeals upholds the ruling but also orders fingerprinting de Pinochet. On March 20, the date set for the fingerprinting and photograph procedure with the Civil Registry Service, the defense requests postponement due to Pinochet's condition of ill health. Subsequently, the defense evades the procedure on at least two more occasions.

20 APRIL 2001

Pinochet's defense team requests repeal of the ruling, on the grounds of allegedly flawed legal foundation of the indictment. The defense contends that upon learning of Arellano's executions Pinochet established measures to prevent recurrence of such criminal actions.

Judge Guzman rejects the petition the same day it is filed.

14 MAY 2001

When the time period for compliance with the fingerprinting is about to expire, the defense files a second motion. It asks the Fifth Chamber of the Court of Appeals to suspend the procedure indefinitely due to Pinochet's medical conditions related to a recent dental operation. The court accepts the motion, and the fingerprinting procedure is postponed for another 15 days.

The prosecution replies with a petition in error against judge Sergio Valenzuela Patiño and the attorney member of the Fifth Chamber, Jose Luis Santa Maria Zañartu. They contend that the Court of Appeals does not have power to rule on such matters that correspond to discretionary authority of Judge Guzman.

29 MAY 2001

In his report on the petition for temporary suspension of proceedings due to medical considerations, the Court of Appeals staff attorney Raul Rocha recommends accepting the request because, in his opinion, the mental health of Pinochet impedes continuation of the trial.

The plaintiff attorneys criticize the report, pointing out that the Court attorney has a conflict of interest, as he is a professor of the law school y at the university where Pinochet's chief defense attorney Pablo Rodriguez is dean.

1 JUNE 2001

Upon expiration of another time period for compliance with the fingerprinting requirement, the Eighth Chamber of the Court of Appeals turns down a motion to stay the procedure, and orders that it be conducted "immediately."

7 JUNE 2001

Plaintiff attorneys ask Guzman to revoke Pinochet's parole for failure to comply with the fingerprinting and to order the Medical Legal Service to conduct the procedure, as the Fourth Military Tribunal is unduly delaying. Guzman rejects both requests.

8 JUNE 2001

The Fourth Military Tribunal transmits the order to conduct the fingerprinting to the Medical Legal. Rumors that Pinochet may have the fingerprinting procedure in absentia prompt Justice Minister Jose Antonio Gomez to clarify that no legal provisions exist for fingerprinting in absentia which can only be conducted in the personal presence of Pinochet.

12 JUNE 2001

Judge Guzman warns the Pinochet defense that he may revoke parole unless fingerprinting procedure is completed with 5 days.

13 JUNE 2001

Three officials of the Civil Registry Service go to Pinochet's Los Boldos residence but Pinochet's doctor and a military guard prevent them from conducting the procedure. Pinochet, they indicate, has doctor's orders for complete rest on account of his delicate state of health.

18-20 JUNE 2001

The Sixth Chamber of the Santiago Court of Appeals is chosen by draw to initiate appeals hearings on the temporary suspension of the trial due to health considerations. Defense attorney Pablo Rodriguez initiates the hearings on June 18 by referring to the medical report that indicates Pinochet suffers from moderate subcortical dementia that impedes him from interaction with his attorneys and produces amnesia, preventing him from remembering the cause for the trial. He enumerates another fifteen serious diseases that allegedly afflict Pinochet and prevent him from adequately availing of due process rights.

On June 19 and 20, plaintiff attorneys as well as the State Defense Council attorney present their arguments. They point out that the medical reports in no way suggest Pinochet is either crazy or demented, which is a diagnosis used for a profound mental alteration of which Pinochet is not afflicted.

20 JUNE 2001

Doctor Reinaldo Selaive Reyes on the Military Hospital medical staff is ordered by Guzman to testify in reference to the issue of the fingerprinting. The doctor states that the procedure, which consists of photographing and fingerprinting Pinochet - could provoke his death. Upon request of Judge Guzman, the University of Chile Neurological Department offers its opinion. The doctors state that the procedure in no way can place a life at risk and might only affect Pinochet emotionally. They recommend that Pinochet be administered prescription tranquilizers prior to fingerprinting.

Judge Guzman orders Pinochet to comply with the fingerprinting procedure.

9 JULY 2001

The Sixth Chamber of the Court of Appeals orders the temporary and partial suspension of the indictment of lifetime senator Pinochet. The ruling removes Pinochet from Guzman's investigation of the homicides and abductions that implicate the Caravan of Death. The court invokes humanitarian consideration on the basis of regulations of the Criminal Procedural Code which is not yet law in Chile, slated to come into effect the following year.

1 JULY 2002 The Supreme Court's Penal Chamber ruled to definitively dismiss proceedings against Augusto Pinochet in the Caravan of Death case. In a 4 to 1 vote, the judges found that conditions of dementia incapacitate Pinochet, rendering him unfit to stand trial. The judgment was the high court's reply to the motions to dismiss on grounds of errors of law filed by the plaintiffs after the Court of Appeals ruling of July 9, 2001, temporarily dismissing procedure against Pinochet on account of dementia or madness.
The Supreme Court's ruling cites medical expert exams as proof that Pinochet suffers from mild to moderate dementia. The ruling ventures beyond the medical expert report, however, in affirming that Pinochet's mental condition is incurable. On account of his alleged mental problems Pinochet is not in condition to exercise due process rights and stand trial, the judgment states.
In hearings held May 16 and 22, 2002 plaintiff attorneys Eduardo Contreras and Juan Pavin argued that the application of the new Code of Criminal Procedure was contrary to law, as this new Judicial Reform is not yet in force in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. This had constituted the basis for the motions to dismiss. They also argued that the medical expert reports fail to confirm Pinochet is either demented or insane, for which reason they sought that the ruling be repealed and new medical exams conducted. Defense attorney Pablo Rodriguez again argued that Pinochet is innocent of the crimes charged against him. He sustained that the Appeal Court ruling is founded on a modern and current interpretation of procedural regulations, for which reason the decision should be upheld.

Return to top