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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Pinochet's wife and son charged
Lucia Pinochet, the wife of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet. File photo
Mrs Pinochet is in hospital receiving medical treatment
A judge has charged the wife and youngest son of Chile's ex-President Augusto Pinochet as accomplices in a multi-million dollar tax fraud case.

Lucia Pinochet and Marco Antonio Pinochet were both granted bail, set at two million pesos (2,000) each.

Mrs Pinochet is in a military hospital in the capital Santiago, where she has been receiving treatment.

The case relates to offshore accounts where Gen Pinochet and his family allegedly hid more than $13m (7m).

Investigating judge Sergio Munoz ordered Mrs Pinochet's arrest, having interviewed her and four of her children last month.

They are going to kill her [Lucia Pinochet]...she's a had a heart problem for years...and she's over 80-years-old
Augusto Pinochet Hiriart
"Nobody in Chile is above the law," said Osvaldo Puccio, the government secretary general.

Mrs Pinochet's eldest son, Augusto Pinochet Hiriart, said the arrest was a shock to the family and that lawyers would be contesting the allegations.

"They are going to kill her...because she's a had a heart problem for years, suffers from many illnesses, and she's over 80-years-old," he told local media.

Fraud allegations

Gen Pinochet was stripped of his legal immunity from prosecution in June over alleged crimes linked to the secret accounts.

The allegations were over tax evasion, false declarations, avoiding an assets embargo and the use of false passports.

The general's lawyers have launched an appeal against the decision with the Supreme Court.

Gen Pinochet's lawyers said all the money in the accounts was legitimately earned, but he has offered to pay back taxes on some of the money.

Gen Pinochet, 89, headed a military junta from 1973 to 1990, during which more than 3,000 people died in political violence.

Since his return to Chile in 2000, he has being battling with the courts to preserve his immunity from prosecution over human rights abuses.


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