The fifth chamber of the Santiago Appeals Court has ordered the Chilean Navy to remove from its facilities the images of Admiral José Toribio Merino, part of the military junta with which Augusto Pinochet took control of Chile after the coup d'état in Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, 50 years ago.
The magistrates have based themselves on the guarantee of non-repetition, which translates into measures to avoid human rights violations, which is in contrast to the maintenance of "photographs and portraits of those who were part of a de facto government during which they committed crimes against humanity”, says the ruling released this Monday, which classifies the action of the Navy as “arbitary and illegal”.
The case began with the protection appeal filed by the lawyer Luis Mariano Rendón, who was a victim of political prison, according to the Valech II Commission, an unprecedented body in the world that sought in democracy to provide reparation to the prisoners and tortured of the dictatorship.
The professional denounced "the maintenance of tributes to José Toribio Merino Castro in different units and naval departments" and detailed before the court the role of Merino, who led the Navy for the 17 years of the dictatorship.
"By paying homage to those who have been responsible for promoting systematic policies of violations of essential rights, the exact opposite is done, that is, it is threatened with the repetition of the reported violations, since the conduct of a person responsible for violating is proposed as an exemplary the rights of their compatriots."
In the course of the case, the Chilean Navy clarified that all the tributes (including a bust) had recently been withdrawn and that currently only a portrait and a photograph of Merino remained, which accounted for his positions as Commander. in Chief of the Navy and Commander in Chief of the First Naval Zone.
According to the military institution, they were part of a chronological gallery where all the authorities who held these positions throughout history were, so it was not a special tribute to Merino.
According to the Chilean Navy, Merino retired voluntarily in 1990 "without having been charged, prosecuted, charged or convicted of any crime."
For the Armed Forces, it is "reasonable" for the institution to remember a former commander "without the latter having any political connotation."
The Court of Appeals ordered the withdrawal of the portrait and photograph of Merino from the General Secretariat of the Navy and the Commander-in-Chief of the First Naval Zone, respectively, for which it gave a period of three days.
However, he did not agree to one of Rendón's requests to replace these images with monuments to the victims of human rights violations committed by members of the Navy.
Last June, the Santiago Appeals Court had already ordered the Navy to remove a statue of Merino from the front of the Valparaíso Maritime Museum, some 100 kilometers from Santiago.
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