Salas Wenzel et al.

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Reparations | Statute of Limitations | Crimes Against Humanity | Deprivation of Liberty

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Memory and Reparations

The Court established that the security forces were responsible for the victims' disappearances. In light of the magnitude of the operation in question, which was composed of different stages including arrest, confinement, interrogation, a request for a helicopter and transferring the victims, the Court inferred the participation of members of the National Information Centre, Army Intelligence Battalion and Aviation Command. Their actions were united by the one and same unique criminal purpose: kidnapping, irregular deprivation of liberty and subsequent disappearance of the victims. The Court found that it was impossible for those involved to have been ignorant of the fact that their actions were part of a broader operation, as all were aware of the criminal design behind their actions and the hierarchical structures in place. The Court also recalled that an order leading to the perpetration of a crime cannot be classified as an "act of service" related to the functions that a solider or officer is expected to carry out. Further, the Court found that the statute of limitations could not be applied both because the delay was due to the state's deliberate interference aimed at securing its own impunity, and because of provisions in relation to the obligation to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity contained in international treaties signed by Chile. In terms of compensation, the Court found that the efforts made by the State to compensate damages through welfare and symbolic benefits did not take into account the specific circumstances of every victim.

Judgment Date

March 21, 2017

Country

Chile

Judicial Body

Chile - Supreme Court

Articles violated

Article 141 [CCC]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Julián Peña Maltés, Mr. Alejandro Pinochet Arenas, Mr. Manuel Sepúlveda Sánchez, Mr. Gonzalo Fuenzalida Navarrete and Mr. Julio Muñoz Otárola, members of a dissident movement, were arrested in October 1987. They were detained in military barracks, interrogated and finally dropped into the sea from a helicopter. No information about their fate or the location of their remains had been obtained at the time of the proceedings.

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