, SANTIAGO September 5- Chile’s judges issued a long awaited apology Wednesday to relatives of those who sought missing loved ones under the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet only to have courts shrug them off.
“To those who were victims of state abuse the time has come to ask for the forgiveness of victims and of Chilean society,” said the Chilean Judges’ Association in a statement almost 40 years after the September 11, 1973, coup that toppled elected socialist Salvador Allende.
Pinochet then took the helm of the South American country, remaining there until 1990.
“It must be said and recognized clearly and completely: the court system and especially the Supreme Court at that time, failed in their roles as safeguards of basic human rights, and to protest those who were victims of state abuse,” the judges said.
Chilean courts rejected about 5,000 cases seeking help on locating missing loved ones abducted or killed by the regime, saying they had no information about their fate.
Authorities believe the Cold War era Pinochet regime was responsible for at least 3,200 killings and 38,000 cases of torture.