The event was a legal milestone that sent a chilling message to human rights violators the world over.
Eight years after being ousted from power, in October 1998, Augusto Pinochet, the ailing Chilean former leader and one of the world’s most notorious dictators, decided to travel to Europe to receive medical treatment.
But as he arrived in London, members of the Chilean diaspora – many of them survivors of torture during Pinochet’s brutal regime – saw a golden opportunity for the former dictator to be investigated, after Chile had systematically refused to do so.
Armed with the International Convention against Torture – a ground-breaking treaty under which governments had agreed that those suspected of committing or ordering torture could be tried by state parties all around the world – lawyers began a fierce battle.
Never before had the Convention been successfully used to prosecute a former head of state suspected of having ordered or committed torture, and the results were astonishing.