Case 258 - The 'English' Patient: General Augusto Pinochet and International Law
This case study examines the political and legal ramifications of the October 1998 arrest in London of Augusto Pinochet, the former general who seized power in a violent coup d’etat and ruled Chile for 17 years, on a warrant from a Spanish judge charging him with the murder, torture, or kidnapping of thousands during his dictatorship that ended in 1990. The case highlights the conflicting and cooperative goals of governments in Britain, Chile, Spain, and the United States in attempting to resolve a protracted international incident. In the process, the study analyzes the nature of Pinochet’s dictatorship, describes how his arrest reopened wounds once thought closed in Chilean society, and assesses American complicity in the 1973 coup that brought him to power. It also underscores Pinochet’s arrest as a watershed in the emerging field of human rights law that, in part, led to the creation of the Rome Treaty and the International Criminal Court.