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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:32 GMT
Pinochet denies charges
General Augusto Pinochet
General Pinochet: I am not a criminal
On Tuesday 23 January, investigating judge Juan Guzman interrogated Chile's former military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, at his residence in Santiago.

The questions centred on the actions of a military squad, known as the "Caravan of Death", which killed more than 70 political prisoners shortly after the 1973 military coup which brought General Pinochet to power.

This is the official transcript of the interrogation, signed by both parties.

Judge Juan Guzman: "As chief of the army or president of the military junta did you ask General Sergio Victor Arellano Stark to undertake a trip in September and October of 1973? What purpose did that trip have?"

General Augusto Pinochet: "His mission was to speed up the [judicial] processes and conclude them: to sentence those who had to be sentenced and close the cases where there was no evidence."

Judge Juan Guzman
Judge Guzman asked Pinochet if he ordered executions
(General Pinochet is then presented with an official document dated 31 October 1973 and signed by Brigade General Joaquin Lagos Osorio. General Pinochet recognises as his a note written on the document in red ink.)

General Pinochet: "What appears in the summary as a list of people executed under the orders of the commander in chief of the army is absolutely false.

"I am not a criminal. Anyway, those in charge of the [judicial] processes, of the detainees, were the commanders of the different garrisons.

Judge Guzman: "Once you learnt about the excesses committed during General Arellano Stark's travels in different parts of the country, did you take any measures?"

General Pinochet: "As I said before, those in charge of speeding up the processes were the commanders of the garrisons."

General Sergio Arellano Stark
General Arellano Stark is being tried for his role in the caravan
Judge Guzman: "Did you give orders for people to be executed during General Arellano and his delegation's travels to different cities in 1973?"

General Pinochet: "For me to remember everything now is impossible.

"I myself never ordered any executions. There was an order from the government junta which said that shots could only be fired in self-defence."

Judge Guzman: "Did you ever give orders to the effect that the bodies of those who died on that occasion should not be returned to their families?"

General Pinochet: "If that happened, it was because the bodies were often reclaimed by their own relatives. In other cases, because they were terrorists and were undocumented, identification was difficult - nobody knew where the bodies were because they weren't claimed.

Judge Guzman: "In your opinion, why did these excesses occur? Why were so many bodies not returned?"

General Pinochet: "In answer to the first, I do not know. In answer to the second, I already replied."

(The declaration was read to General Pinochet and signed by him and the judge.)

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | Americas
Lawyers seek Pinochet indictment
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