Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Warrants issued for Pinochet's people -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: A court in Chile has ordered the arrest of more than 120 people who allegedly
violated human rights in the 1970s under the regime of General Pinochet. The former soldiers and
police are accused of being part of a police unit that purged critics of the military dictatorship.

As Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: About 3,000 dissenters were killed or disappeared after Augusto Pinochet seized
control of Chile in a military coup in 1973. The dictatorship ended in 1990, more than 1,000 people
are still missing.

PATRICIO BUSTOS (translated): It is painful to admit, but we know that we're not going to be able
to identify all of them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Patricio Bustos is the director of forensic services for the Chilean
Government. It's just launched a new campaign calling on the relatives of the missing to give DNA
so the Government can create a huge database to help identify any bodies that are found.

While the painstaking search for remains goes on, Chile's justice system is also laboriously
conducting an inquest into the regime. Overnight a judge has issued warrants for the arrest of 129
people accused of kidnapping and killing leftists and government opponents. The accused all worked
for the National Intelligence Directorate

Dr Marivic Wyndham from the University of Technology Sydney says the force, known as the DINA, was
the most feared organisation in Chile. It killed and kidnapped hundreds of people as part of
Operation Condor.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: Opponents who were overseas were targeted by the DINA. They went into Washington
DC and in the very first time that the mainland United States has experienced a terrorist attack,
the ex-foreign minister of Chile Orlando Letelier, and his assistant, there was a car bomb and they
were both killed instantly.

So this was really a campaign to both exterminate these voices that were giving Pinochet's regime a
hard time overseas, but also to intimidate the others who were the many, many hundreds and
thousands of exiles of the dictatorship who were themselves trying to bring to the attention of the
international community what was going on.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The warrants relate to that operation, as well as Operation Colombo and other
offences. Since 1990, scores of officials from the Pinochet era have been prosecuted for
kidnapping, torture and murder, but very few of the major players have faced court. General
Pinochet himself died in 2006 without ever being brought to trial.

The inquest into his regime has been running since 1998, but Dr Wyndham says many Chileans have
become increasingly cynical about the process.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: There's a long history to this, and there's been and continues to be a very strong
denial on the part of not only the DINA, members of the DINA, but the members of the armed forces,
many of them were also involved in these crimes, denial of these crimes.

So it's very, very slow and frustrating process to get these people to court. The problem with
Chile as well is that even when you do get them through court and even when you do get them
indebted, a lot of them have their sentences reduced considerably and also where they're put is not
where your common criminals go, but in rather nice accommodation.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Chilean police are expected to start arresting the 129 suspects today. It's the
largest amount of warrants to be issued so far, and Dr Wyndham says that should give hope to human
rights groups.

MARIVIC WYNDHAM: One of the big obstacles to reconciliation in Chile has been the lack of
commitment on the part of those that can actually go out there and seek the truth, and therefore
seek justice, to really commit themselves. I think a lot of Chileans would say we need to see a
commitment on the part of the state to bring these people to justice, not only out of revenge, but
also to make the statement that never again will this happen.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But she says politics may be playing a role too. Chile will hold presidential
elections next year, and Dr Wyndham says there are concerns the ruling centre-left coalition may
lose government for the first time since the transition to democracy.

ELEANOR HALL: Meredith Griffiths.