Monday, 11 December 2006

Perversion of justice

I woke this morning to the news that Augusto Pinochet died.

I'm not one to rejoice in the death of another human being, but the news initially bought a smile to my lips. That initial reaction lasted barely a moment before a sadness took over. It wasn't sadness for Pinochet's family or close friends and the loss they must be feeling, but a deep sorrow that all the people affected by his brutal dictatorship will never have the justice they deserve.

Yes, one of the century's great monster dictators is dead and unable to taunt his victims with the mere fact of his unrepentant freedom, and for this I am sure many in Chile and around the world are gladdened.

But the very nature of his death (in a hospital, of natural causes) is a slap in the face of those he tortured and the families of those he murdered and disappeared. That Pinochet never spent a day in prison for the crimes he committed and that he died a free man is a travesty of the concept of justice.

The people of Chile will never be truly free of the terror of Pinochet's regime because they will never really have closure. Seeing the man responsible for the brutal repression of an entire people put in prison would have enabled old wounds to begin to heal.

How will those wounds heal now?

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