Bringing War Criminals to Justice

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The Bush administration this week took the unprecedented step of “unsigning” the treaty setting up the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.

But the march for justice for the victims of crimes against humanity continues. It continues in the International Criminal Court that will be established on July 1, in spite of the US. And it goes on in the numerous specific cases that have been brought against murderous dictators and governments. It is these cases that have created the legal space in which to establish an international criminal court.

In one of the most landmark cases, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon charged Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet with numerous human rights crimes and ordered him arrested in 1998 in England.

Pinochet had for years eluded responsibility for the deaths, disappearance, and torture of thousands of Chileans. Pinochet remained under house arrest for 16 months while the British debated his fate. In the end, English officials decided Pinochet could not be extradited to Spain because of his ill health, and allowed him to return to Chile. But once in Chile, officials stripped Pinochet of his immunity, opening the door for his prosecution at home.

There are now more than 100 cases pending in Chile against Pinochet.

Well, today Judge Garzon joins us in the studio.


  • Judge Baltasar Garzon, Investigating Judge of Spain’s National Court.
  • Michelle Guanca, translator.
  • Jennifer Harbury, human rights lawyer and wife of slain Guatemalan rebel leader, Efrain Bamaca Velazquez. She is the author of ??Searching for Everardo, about her quest to find out the truth about her husband’s disappearance.
  • Joyce Horman, widow of journalist-human rights activist Charles Horman. Charles Horman was seized by Chilean troops just days after the bloody coup ousting the Chilean leader, Salvador Allende. He was then taken to the National Stadium and killed. Joyce Horman sued Henry Kissinger in 1976 for $4.9 million and information on the murder of her husband. Over time, bits and pieces have come out, and a picture has emerged of an ugly conspiracy to silence her husband for his knowledge of U.S. involvement in the coup as well as in the ambush killing of Constitutionalist General Rene Schneider. As told in the 1982 film “Missing,” Horman had only recently completed his research into the U.S. role in Schneider’s killing when he was kidnapped off the street in front of neighbors in September 1973.

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