CHILE: CRIME AND PUNISMMFNT
Verdicts and sentences in the major public trial held by the air force between April and June finally were issued last week.
The four death sentences handed down were commuted toears imprisonment on Augusthe relatively quick commutation indicate* lie that the military government has grownaware of the damage that the executions last year have done to Chile's international image. The rest of the sentences are under review, and at least some of the prison terms probably will bereduced.f the officiallyeftist prisoners have yet to be formally charged, however, including high-ranking officials of the Allende regime and leftist party leaders-
Most ofodd defendants were military men. but civilian Carlosormer vice of the state bank, was ooe of those
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condemned to death. Former Socialist senator Erich Schnake gotears. The most serious charges involved leftist attempts to promote insubordination in the air force and the passage of military secrots to the "enemy."
defense lawyers had argued that since the lit offenses allegedly were committed before the coup thai overthrew the Allende regime, the trials should have been heldeacetime military tribunal ratherartime court-martial. Prosecuting attorneys countered with thethat the state of war predated the coup. The issue is crucial, since some minor peacetimeof the military justice code are major violations in time of war.
age opinion, the air forco court ruled that an undeclared state of war came into being years before theith theof leftist paramilitary forces-thethe "mobilization" of the armed forces to combat political violence.tate of war did exist whon the offenses wore committed, the court went on to cite precedents such as tho Dreyfus case and the Stalin purge trials to demonstrate that anan exist even in peacetime. Theignored defense charges that torture was used to obtain confessions.
Good legal arguments can be made on both sides of the question of when the state of war began, but on the whole the air force court's opinion isolitical tractegal analysis. The reviewing officer based his decision to commute the death sentences on the previous good records of the defendants.
Some military men feel there should be no more spectacular public trials, and theseems unsure how to proceed against its most prominent prisoners. Whatever the decision, however, it is likely to reflect the military'sto continue to do things its uwn way ivy criticism from abroad.
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