Juan Guzmán Tapia

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Juan Guzmán Tapia
Juan Guzmán Tapia-IPS.jpg
Born (1939-04-22) April 22, 1939 (age 77)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Nationality Chile
Occupation Judge
Known for Augusto Pinochet's arrest and trial

Juan Salvador Guzmán Tapia (born April 22, 1939) is a retired Chilean judge.


Guzmán was born into a Chilean diplomatic family in San Salvador, El Salvador. His father was Juan Guzmán Cruchaga. He is of Basque descent.[1] He studied Law at the University of Chile and did postgraduate studies in Paris. He began his judicial career in 1970 and was a member of the Santiago Appeals Court.

Guzmán retired in 2005. In a memoir, The Edge of the World, published later that year, he revealed that he had come under political pressure to drop the case against Pinochet [1].

In 2008, Guzmán voiced his support of Cuba in defense against hostility towards and "blockade" of Cuba by the United States. [2]

Prosecution of Augusto Pinochet[edit]

On 12 January 1998, human rights lawyers in Chile submitted the first of more than 70 lawsuits against General Pinochet. Guzmán was appointed to take charge of the investigation. Arrested in London in October 1998 under orders of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, Pinochet was finally deemed unfit for trial and returned home in March 2000.

Guzmán secured the arrests of the accused by applying a used interpretation of the 1978 auto-amnesty law. He argued that since many of the bodies of the military squad's victims were still missing, it could be argued legally that these people are still kidnapped. Therefore, Guzmán argued, the crime is continuing and neither the auto-amnesty law nor the statute of limitations can be applied until the bodies are found: permanent sequestration crime was created by this jurisprudence, thus permitting prosecution for the forced disappearances.

In December 2000, Guzmán formally charged Pinochet for kidnapping during his 1973–1990 dictatorship, and questioned him for two hours in January 2001 after doctors said he was fit to undergo interrogation. That same month, Guzmán placed the general under house arrest.

In July 2001, the charges were suspended and later dropped on health grounds. In May 2004, the Court stripped Pinochet again of his immunity from prosecution over fresh charges concerning Operation Condor. In September 2005, the Court acceded to Juan Guzmán's request to strip Pinochet of his immunity concerning Operation Colombo.

A feature-length documentary about Juan Guzmán's attempts to bring Pinochet to justice for human rights crimes was completed in 2008. The film, entitled "The Judge and the General", was produced by West Wind Productions.