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Court Watch

Contreras’ move, then, may be politically moti- vated. The election date, November 17, 2013, is fast approaching. Reopening the events of 1973- 74 by attempting to charge one candidate’s father with the murder of the other’s father could be a strategy by human rights groups to pit the candi- dates against each other, force the public to take sides, and force the candidates to relive their fathers’ past. Matthei is behind in the polls and Contreras’ timing in bringing these charges could very well cost Matthei the election.


The media’s decision to treat the election like a hyped-up sporting match has not helped matters. Sensationalized coverage has effectively reduced the election to “the daughter of a junta member, now competing against one of its leading vic- tims.” An August 2013 photo byline of the can- didates even went so far as to state that despite the candidates’ cordial relationship, their “good graces will be tested like never before now that they’re facing off in the ... election.” It should not be shocking that Bachelet is currently the favorite to win.

Implications for Justice

‘Playing politics’ and spinning stories arguably serve to generate interest in the upcoming elec- tion, but at the cost of covering up the real is- sue: Chile’s inability to effectively secure justice for human rights violations. Even after Pinochet’s resignation as president, he used his position as Commander-in-Chief to actively oppose political initiatives for justice and frequently “quash[ed] the threat of prosecutions” against suspected violators. Pinochet eventually was stripped of prosecutorial immunity, but never actually stood trial for his regime’s human rights abuses.

The unique facts surrounding Matthei’s alleged involvement in Bachelet’s death make it unclear to predict the implications of an appellate ruling. Matthei was stationed overseas when he took over as head of the Academy and was not pres- ent at the Academy when Bachelet died. Even if

the appellate court overturns Carroza’s judgment, the verdict could be very narrow in its applica- tion.

Contreras’ struggle showcases the flaws of the Chilean justice system and the struggle between administering the law and administering justice. Chile has been making slow but sure progress towards justice, and Chile’s judicial system has come a long way since Pinochet’s regime. The court’s decision on whether to grant the appeal to charge Matthei will likely be an important mile marker in Chile.

* Submitted by Rachel Catlett

U.S. Court Convicts Somalian Pirates for Kidnapping and Murder of American Citizens

Three Somalian men were convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for hijacking a boat and killing four Americans on board off the coast of Somalia. The main case in- volving this report is U.S. v. Shibin.

The United States government alleges that So- malian nationals seized the Quest, a U.S. flagged vessel. On February 18, 2011, several armed Somali nationals forcefully boarded the Quest, took the U.S. citizens on board as hostages, and steered the vessel towards Somalia. This prompt- ed U.S. military personnel aboard the USS Ster- ett, a warship posted near the coast of Somalia, to attempt negotiations with the Somalians to rescue the hostages.

Four days after being taken hostage, a rocket-pro- pelled grenade (RPG), was fired from the Quest at the USS Sterett. The USS Sterett returned fire and the Somalians shot and killed all the hostag- es.

In April 2011, following a grand jury indictment, Mohammad Shibin, aka Ali Jima, was arrested in Bosaso, Somalia. Local authorities turned Shibin over to the FBI. Shibin was then transported to

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 1 » October 2013

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