International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Justice for the Murders of Two Americans in Chile

The New York Times published an article this past Wednesday announcing the sentencing of 2 former Chilean intelligence officials who had been previously indicted in 2011, for the murders of 2 American citizens during the 1973 military coup in Santiago. Charles Horman was 31, and working as a filmmaker and journalist in Chile when he was murdered along with Frank Teruggi, a recent graduate studying economics in the area, and just 24 when he was killed.

This news comes following the recent disclosure of a 276 page ruling issued by the Santiago court on January 9th, which sentenced retired Chilean Army intelligence officer, Pedro Espinoza to 7 years in prison for committing both murders, and former Chilean Air Force intelligence officer, Rafael González, to 2 years of police supervision for his role as an accomplice in Charles Horman’s murder. The document also details that the Chilean government accused both American citizens of participating in “subversive” acts, and ordered for Horman to be murdered, while Teruggi was initially detained and tortured before being killed. While the prosecutions of Espinoza and González offer some degree of justice for the victims and their families, many questions still remain unanswered; including those concerning the extent to which the American government was involved. In 2011 the Chilean court also indicted former US Navy captain Ray E. Davis, after discovering that while working for a US military group in Santiago, he had given Chilean officials information regarding certain Americans in the area, including Horman and Teruggi. Davis’s sentencing was never carried out, as he died in 2013 while living in a nursing home in Chile.

The countless injustices that took place in Chile during the 1973 coup and throughout the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet remain under investigation; but as the United States’ role in orchestrating and partaking in these incidents becomes increasingly clear, so does the importance of holding individuals, including state officials, accountable in criminal prosecutions.


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