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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK
Court arrests Chilean general
Relatives of the disappeared
Relatives of the disappeared campaign in Chile
A judge in Chile has ordered the arrest of a former air force general for obstruction of justice.

The judge ordered that General Patricio Campos, be detained at a military base south of the capital, Santiago.

General Augusto Pinochet
Pinochet remained in charge of the army until 1998
The magistrate has got five days to decide whether there is enough evidence to prosecute him.

General Campos left the air force last month after human rights groups demanded an investigation into allegations that his wife participated in human rights abuses in the 1970s and 1980s.

The state-owned newspaper, La Nacion, reported that the officer's wife worked for a clandestine group thought to have been involved in the disappearance, and presumed murder, of dozens of people after the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973.

About 3,000 people were killed or disappeared during General Pinochet's 1973-90 rule.

Wife claims

General Campos was responsible last year for gathering information from air force witnesses as part of an official inquiry into human rights violations.

According to the newspaper article, he deliberately withheld information to protect members of the military as well as his wife, Viviana Ugarte, who had been a security agent allegedly involved in two disappearances.

The episode has caused tension between the government and the air force and renewed demands for restoration of the president's power to dismiss the military commanders, which was eliminated in the constitution written by the Pinochet regime.

When Chile returned to democracy in 1990, then President Patricio Aylwin set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Efforts blocked

It reported that more than 3,000 people had been killed during 17 years of military government under General Pinochet. Of this number, more than 1,000 were listed as "disappeared".

For a number of years, the country did little to try to find the bodies of the disappeared.

General Pinochet remained in charge of the Chilean army until 1998, and blocked any efforts to investigate the past. But his arrest in London in October 1998 changed everything.

The country made a renewed effort to face up to its past. In August 1999, a commission was set up by the minister of defence.

The Pinochet File


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10 Jan 01 | Americas
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