The Court of Guarantee of Temuco [Chile] today rejected a jurisdictional challenge by the defense of the accused Patricio Alejandro Marín Lazo, which sought to transfer the "Operation Hurricane" case to military court.Should the Carabineros ever be subject to military justice? See also Carabinieri, Guardia Civil, other gendarmeries.
Judge Caroline Guzmán Muñoz upheld the Guarantee Court's jurisdiction over the case.
"Without prejudice to the fact that the present case is not formalized, there is a formalization request, and prior to this, a thorough investigation has been discussed. From the analysis of these antecedents it is possible to point out that the facts investigated concern common crimes sanctioned in the Criminal Code," the decision states.
The decision cites the Code of Military Justice: "in no case shall civilians and minors be subject to the jurisdiction of military courts. These will always be filed in ordinary courts with criminal jurisdiction,"not making any distinction as to the character in which civilians or minors must intervene in the process, in order to remove cognizance of a certain cause of the field of military jurisdiction.
The judge added that although they are "public officials, and who have departed from the duties imposed on them by their position, their knowledge and judgment corresponds to the ordinary courts, and the criminal process must give the interveners certain judicial guarantees, among them, the public nature of its proceedings and due process, as it happens today in the ordinary courts; not so, military justice that is still governed by an inquisitorial system that undermines the rights of the accused while preventing him from adequately defending himself."
The Marín Lazo case is part of a larger controversy, as this mostly-machine-translated article from La Tercera reports:
The defense of General (R) Gonzalo Blu, former National Chief of Intelligence of the Carabineros, yesterday filed an application for an injunction with the Second Military Court of Santiago. The gist is that a military tribunal should try the case of the former officer, rather than the Temuco Guarantee Court.
Currently, prosecutor Carlos Palma is investigating Blu for the possible crimes of conspiracy to commit a public instrument and obstruction of the investigation, within the framework of so-called Operation Hurricane, in which eight people were arrested for alleged arson attacks in the Araucanía region.
According to the 18-page document, jurisdiction to try the case rests in a military court because "having been committed, apparently, common crimes by Carabineros de Chile in service, cognizance of the facts belongs exclusively to the Military Courts."
Meanwhile, the Court of Temuco yesterday rejected a request by another accused, Captain (R) Patricio Marín. With the filing of Blu's motion, the Military Prosecutor's Office is still pending. If it accepts the request, a jurisdictional challenge could be generated, which would have to be settled by the Supreme Court.