Chile Owes Exile Damages After Torture Under Pinochet: Court

Leopoldo Garcia Lucero ruling is first of its kind for international court

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 2, 2013 3:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Chilean man exiled in 1975 has won court-ordered compensation from the state over torture he suffered under Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights; ruling in the case of Leopoldo Garcia Lucero, 80, marks the Costa Rica-based institution's first decision on a living survivor of Pinochet's human rights abuses, the BBC notes. Some 200,000 Chileans fled the Pinochet-led country; the case could influence similar decisions in the future.

Garcia was detained for a year and a half starting in 1973, just days after Pinochet's coup. He believes he was arrested for his ties to President Salvador Allende; there was no formal accusation, he says. Now living in the UK, he suffers from disability following spinal damage from the torture. The ruling has him "not happy, but satisfied," he tells the BBC, "because it will now mean there's been a precedent for the whole world, so something like this will never happen again." Chile's own investigation into Garcia's case has been delayed for 16 years, according to the court; the country must finish it and pay moral damages to Garcia, the court ruled.

In this Sept. 18, 1985 file photo, Chile's Gen. Augusto Pinochet salutes during Independence Day celebrations in Santiago, Chile.   (AP Photo, File)
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