SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Chile's government must pay a Chilean exile 20,000 pounds ($32,000) in compensation for nearly two years of arrest and torture during the military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The ruling by the Costa-Rica based court came in the case of Leopoldo Garcia Lucero, who has lived in Britain since 1975. It is the first ruling from the court in favor of a survivor of the 1973-90 Pinochet dictatorship.
The ruling was issued Aug. 28 and the parties were notified Wednesday, the court's website says.
Garcia Lucero was exiled by Chile's Interior Ministry after being jailed and tortured from the start of the dictatorship in September 1973 until June 1975.
According to court documents, after democracy was restored in Chile, Garcia Lucero sent a letter to the appropriate Chilean authorities in December 1993 seeking exoneration, but the government was guilty of an "undue delay" in investigating his claim.
In 2004, a truth commission delivered a report to Chile's government that listed political prisoners who had been tortured and Garcia Lucero's name was included, but authorities still didn't investigate his complaint, the documents say.
It was not until October 2011, after the filing of a complaint with the Court of Appeals in Chile's capital that officials began researching Garcia Lucero's "political imprisonment," the rights court said.
The court said the delay of 16 years and 10 months violated Chile's responsibilities under human rights conventions and other treaties to conduct and conclude an investigation within a reasonable period.
The dictatorship jailed thousands as suspected subversives, and Chile's government estimates 3,095 people were killed during Pinochet's rule.