Pinochet’s Arrest in London


On 16th October 1988, the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest in a hospital in London, where he was recovering from a minor surgery for a herniated disk. The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón had issued the international arrest warrant in order to proceed with a trial against the assassination of Spanish citizens during the Chilean dictatorship and Operation Condor.

This event had wide repercussions: a complex judicial and political debate unfolded as Pinochet’s defence presented appeals. The Chilean government adopted the stance that the former dictator’s arrest was a violation of its national jurisdiction. Pinochet was under house arrest for 503 days in total.

On 2nd March 2000, the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw decided to release Pinochet on humanitarian grounds, due to his state of health. Pinochet then returned to Chile. On 6th March 2000, the Chilean judge, Juan Guzmán Tapia called for Pinochet to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity as a lifetime senator in Chile.

In 2004, the Chilean Appeals Court and Supreme Court unexpectedly accepted Judge Guzmán Tapia’s request and decided that Pinochet could be tried for the crimes committed against the 19 Chilean victims of Operation Condor.

Media description
Pinochet’s arrival in Chile following his extradition from London (2/3/2000, Santiago de Chile)
La Tercera (C)