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Chilean presidential candidate triggers controversy over human rights trials

Saturday, November 14th 2009 - 13:15 UTC
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Piñera told retired military personnel he would put an end to “ad eternum” trials Piñera told retired military personnel he would put an end to “ad eternum” trials

Conservative presidential candidate Sebastían Piñera on Thursday defended comments he made Tuesday to a meeting of retired, Pinochet-era military and police officials. Piñera pledged his government would put an end to human rights cases that “never end” if he succeeds in his bid for office.

“If I make it to La Moneda (Chile’s presidential palace) I will make every measure to ensure justice is applied in an appropriate manner,” said Piñera. “Without proceedings that go on ad eternum, that never finish.”

Piñera was then duly applauded by the crowd of nearly 1,000 retired military and police personnel.

“We made him aware of our problems” said former general director of Caribineros (Chile´s military police) Fernando Cordero. “He (Piñera) promised to fix what he can in his role as president. I think he’ll make sure things are done right and fairly.”

And the “Organization of Military Political Prisoner in Democracy (OSPPED)” praised Piñera’s courage to raise the issue of “military and police that are persecuted, prosecuted and condemned to prison for having confronted the actions of Marxist terrorists.”

Still, Supreme Court President Milton Juica took a dim view of the candidate’s remarks.

“If someone believes some of our citizens are not getting their due process rights,” said Juica, “they should cite the cases or situations where (due process) has not been respected.”

The Supreme Court president also noted that human rights cases against Pinochet-era human rights abusers are moving forward through Chilean courts faster than ever before.

The “Families of the Detained and Disappeared (AFDD)” also took issue with the candidate’s comments.

“What’s happened here is positive in the sense that Piñera has shown his cards,” said AFDD spokesperson Mireya García.“(Piñera) has no commitment to human rights in terms of punishing the violations that occurred during the dictatorship and that truth and justice be served.”

Post dictatorship commissions determined that about 3,000 political prisoners were killed or went “disappeared” during the 17-year Pinochet regime and at least 28,000 more were tortured, including Chile’s current president Michelle Bachelet.

By Pamela Morales - Santiago Times

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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