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Pinochet

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the campaign to bring Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet to trial for human rights abuses.

Sue MacGregor reunites five people involved in the campaign to bring Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet to trial for human rights abuses.

For nearly two decades, General Augusto Pinochet repressed and reshaped Chile. He seized power on September 11th 1973, in a bloody military coup that toppled the Marxist government of President Salvador. He then led the county into an era of robust economic growth, transforming a bankrupt economy into the most prosperous in Latin America. During his rule, however, more than 3,200 people were executed or disappeared, and thousands more were detained, tortured or exiled. Pinochet's name became synonymous with human rights abuses and corruption.

He gave up the presidency in 1990 but held onto the post of commander in chief. Then, in October 1998, in an extraordinary turn of events he was detained in London on a warrant from Spain requesting his extradition on murder charges. It was the first time a former head of state had been arrested based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. The then-British Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered his release on health grounds in 2000, after a controversial medical test stated that Pinochet was not fit to appear before a court, and he returned to Chile a free man that same year.

Joining Sue around the table to look back on Pinochet's arrest and the landmark case that followed are Juan Garces, a former aide to Salvador Allende; the former Home Secretary Jack Straw; and Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, who was personally transformed by the experience of descending into what he called the "abyss" of investigating crimes committed by Pinochet.

Producer: Emily Williams
Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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45 minutes

Programme Notes

Additional research by Professor David Sugarman, Law, Lancaster University 

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