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News > Chile

Chilean Lawyer Who Brought Charges Against Pinochet Died

  • Chilean lawyer Eduardo Contreras.

    Chilean lawyer Eduardo Contreras. | Photo: X/ @KarolCariola

Published 27 May 2024

The legacy of Eduardo Contreras and "will be etched in history," Minister Camila Vallejo said.

On Monday, attorney Eduardo Contreras, known for filing the first lawsuit for crimes against humanity against dictator Augusto Pinochet, passed away at the age of 84.


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Contreras was a communist militant who held various positions throughout his life, including serving as a deputy during the government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973), mayor of the city of Chillan, and Chilean ambassador to Uruguay during Michelle Bachelet's second term (2014-2018).

After the coup that overthrew President Allende on September 11, 1973, Contreras was persecuted by Pinochet's dictatorship and forced into exile in various countries, such as Panama, Cuba, and Mexico.

The U.S.-backed Pinochet dictatorship ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, killing over 40,000 Chileans, including at least 3,200 political opponents. To date, about a thousand of its victims remain missing.

Contreras returned to his country when Chile transitioned back to democracy. In 1998, he and historic communist leader Gladys Marin filed the first lawsuit against Pinochet, who was serving as a lifetime senator. In 2006, Pinochet died without being judged for his crimes.

"Contreras' legacy, his fight, and the various human rights causes he championed will be etched in history," said Camila Vallejo, Minister of the General Secretariat of Government.

“I regret the death of lawyer and journalist Eduardo Contreras, a great human rights defender… He leaves us an important legacy,” said Karol Cariola, the president of the Lower Chamber.

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