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Bring Charges Against Pinochet, NCC General Secretary Demands 

            March 7, 2000, NEW YORK CITY - National Council of Churches General Secretary Dr. Bob Edgar today joined other ecumenical and human rights groups demanding that charges be brought against Chilean General Augusto Pinochet of crimes against humanity.

         The full text of his statement follows.

 Statement on General Pinochet’s Return to Chile
by
The Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

March 7, 2000

The future of former Chilean President General Augusto Pinochet, who returned to his homeland on March 2nd following his release from 16 months of house arrest in London, is of urgent concern to churches and human rights organizations throughout the world. The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA joins the World Council of Churches, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others in demanding that charges brought against General Pinochet of crimes against humanity continue to be vigorously pursued. 

A popular judgment has already been rendered by thousands of Chileans affected by over 2,000 political executions and tens of thousands of tortures and disappearances under General Pinochet’s rule. There is mounting pressure in Chile and in the international community to move forward with legal proceedings against Pinochet. A statement by the World Council of Churches on the eve of General Pinochet’s departure for Chile speaks for the ecumenical community:

“We are grateful to the governments of the UK, Spain, Switzerland, France and Belgium for their efforts to achieve justice in the case of General Pinochet. In the process, an extremely important new precedent has been set - no dictator again… feels that he can move with impunity. The supporters of Pinochet have agreed that this matter is now over. But at the World Council of Churches, we do not believe that the case of General Pinochet is over, and it will not be over until the full truth is told and heard - about the abuses committed during his regime - in a way that satisfies his victims and the families of his victims. It is our sincere hope…the Chilean government will hold to the commitments it gave in its legal arguments in seeking General Pinochet’s release, and will bring charges against him in the appropriate Chilean courts.”

For one of the first time in history, gross human rights are being prosecuted, under international law and across national lines.  An international case against General Pinochet is already  underway.  The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, along with the World Council of Churches, urges President Frei and President-elect Lagos to carry out their promise to prosecute General Pinochet’s case in accordance domestic criminal law and with international law dealing with crimes against humanity, so that the cause of justice for the victims of the Pinochet regime and their families can be fully served.

-end-

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