[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 10:54 GMT
New move over Pinochet immunity
By Clinton Porteous
BBC News, Santiago

General Augusto Pinochet
Pinochet was president of Chile from 1974 to 1990
A Chilean judge has requested former President General Augusto Pinochet be stripped of legal immunity to enable a new human rights abuse investigation.

Judge Juan Guzman made the request the day he closed an inquiry into the landmark Caravan of Death case.

Twenty military officers are set to go to trial but General Pinochet is not among them due to a Supreme Court decision.

The 1998 lawsuit was the first-ever in Chile involving General Pinochet.

The Chilean Supreme Court had ruled in 2002 that General Pinochet was mentally unfit to defend himself against the allegations.

The judge told the BBC he was now satisfied that the investigation was complete.

"We have studied all the cases, all the crimes that have been committed. It has been a difficult job, a long job, and we have gone as far as we could," he said.

The inquiry into the 1973 Caravan of Death operation, alleging that a special military squad had flown into Chilean towns and cities killing and kidnapping 94 victims, took seven years to complete.

'Operation Colombo'

Judge Guzman had charged General Pinochet, along with 20 military officials now on trial, with responsibility for the crimes but the Supreme Court had ruled that the General could not defend himself.

However, having closed one inquiry, Judge Guzman has now requested that General Pinochet be stripped of his protection so he can be investigated over a new case, known as Operation Colombo.

This was a campaign by the Chilean secret police to cover-up the alleged killing of 119 dissidents.

False articles were published abroad claiming they were victims of an internal power struggle within the Left.

A lower court is expected to make a decision on the request in the coming months and it could add to General Pinochet's legal troubles.

Since last year, every major decision by the Chilean courts has gone against the former president.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific