SANTIAGO – Chile’s judges issued a long-awaited apology Wednesday to relatives of those who sought missing loved ones under the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet only to have courts shrug them off.
“To those who were victims of state abuse . . . the time has come to ask for the forgiveness of victims . . . and of Chilean society,” said the Chilean Judges’ Association in a statement almost 40 years after the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that toppled Socialist President Salvador Allende. Pinochet took the helm of the country, remaining there until 1990.
“It must be said and recognized clearly and completely: The court system, and especially the Supreme Court at that time, failed in their roles as safeguards of basic human rights and to protest those who were victims of state abuse,” the judges said.
Authorities believe the Cold War-era Pinochet regime was responsible for at least 3,200 killings and 38,000 cases of torture.