Monday, August 20, 2012
Chile's Frustrating Battle Against Domestic Terrorism
In the past six years, about 150 terrorist bombs have exploded in Chile. Most have been small devices that caused relatively modest damage. The targets are usually business storefronts, including those of multinational corporations. Police had no arrests and little progress -- until they caught a lucky break last year. A young anarchist targeted a branch of Santander Bank in Santiago, but the bomb blew up on him. He lost one hand, part of another, part of his eyesight and was badly burned. The young bomber got his comeuppance, it seemed. But this month, a court dismissed terrorism charges against him and sentenced him to six years of probation. The light sentence caused a public backlash, as many Chileans saw their best shot at a terror suspect practically evaporate. But the 23-year-old bomber is not out of the woods. Unlike the U.S. legal system, Chile's courts allow the state to appeal a criminal sentence. That's the next step in the largely fruitless battle against the bombers. In June, six defendants accused of planting bombs were acquitted. The judge cited a lack of evidence.