CHILE: ON TRIAL
Tht first major public trial for leftist prisoner! got under way in Santiago last week and is expected to last atonth. Verdicts and sentences for theefendants will be handed down only after all the individual trials are over.
Most of the defendants are military men. but socialist civilians Carlos Lazo andenator at the time of the military coup last year-ate charged withinsubordination in the armed forces and stealing military secrets. The prosecution has requested death sentences for several militaryife sentonco for Lazo, andears for Schnakt.
Defense attorneys for the first military defendants to be tried argued that the wartime court-martial set up to hear the cases lacksThoy claimed that since the allegedwere committed prior to the coup and the junta's declarations of states of siege and internal war. the trials should be conducted underprovisions of the military justice code.
Decfsions of peacetime military tribunals may be appealed to the civil Supreme Court, bul appeals from the judgmonts of wartime courts-martial may be made only to higher mililary authorities
the juridical measuresnecessary and proper may not completely measure up to internationally accepted standards
The governmentifferent view of jurisdiction.ecree law issued soon after the coup, it has construed tho military justice code to hold that the date of the initiation of judicial proceedingsefendant, not the date of the alleged offense, is the determining (actor. Military prosecutors at the trialew wrinkle by arguing that an undeclared state of internal war existed before the coup.
The court refused to declare itselfbut did not allude to tho proposition thatiKC the state of war bogan with the organization of extremist paramilitary units and their clandestine procurement of illegal arms. The issue of when and against whom the armed forces were at war is central to charges involving the passing of military secrets to "the enemy."
The government has announced that trials for its mosl prominent leftist prisoners-including party leaders and cabinet officers in the Allendebegin bofore the end of April. These defendants are also likely to be brought before wartime courts-martial and charged with pre-coup violations of the military justice code. Defense attorneys undoubtedly will raise the jurisdictional issue, but their arguments willbe in vain. The junta will take international public opinion into account in planning tor these trials, but this will not be an overridingThe junta does not appear to be greatly swayed by arguments that the juridical measures it considers necessary and proper under what it seesontinuing emergency situation may not completely measure up to internationally accepted standards. F
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