This essay discusses the origins, implications, and future of present-day trials for dictatorship-era human rights violations in Chile. It analyzes the causes, consequences, and likely future of these prosecutions and debates how use of the judicial idiom may have both negatively and positively affected social repudiation of past atrocities and their perpetrators. It argues that the formal justice process, for all its benefits, has limitations when it comes to addressing matters of social complicity or morally ambiguous victimhood. It nonetheless signals the possible social and institutional benefits of involving justice system institutions in the search for accountability for past crimes.

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