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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 19:10 GMT
At-a-glance: The Pinochet cases
General Augusto Pinochet
Gen Pinochet's lawyers say he is unfit to stand trial

After being released from house arrest in the UK in 2000, Chile's former military ruler Augusto Pinochet faced a number of charges in the Chilean courts.

Under Chilean law, General Pinochet needed to be stripped of his immunity from legal prosecution on a case-by-case basis before any charges could be filed. The BBC News website examines the six cases in which the former ruler saw his immunity removed at some point.

Click on the links above to find out more about the cases.


What it is about:
An American investigation into the US-based Riggs Bank found in 2004 that Gen Pinochet held up to $8m in secret accounts there. Chilean investigators later found that the former ruler had about $27m in secret foreign accounts.

The judicial process:
General Pinochet was free on bail after being charged with tax evasion and using false passports to open accounts abroad. A court also stripped him of his legal immunity so he could be investigated for embezzlement of state funds, but no charges were filed. His wife, four of their five children and a number of other associates have also been charged in this case.

What the defence said:
Gen Pinochet's fortune was acquired legally, through savings, donations and accrued interest. His lawyers say that the reason he did not declare all his income was not to evade taxes, but to protect himself against possible trials abroad. They say he was given false passports for security reasons.


What it is about:
Villa Grimaldi is said to have been one of the biggest secret detention centres in operation in Santiago during the military regime. Thousands of people were tortured at the centre between 1974 and 1977; many of them disappeared.

Judicial process:
The allegations against Gen Pinochet involve 23 cases of torture of political prisoners at the Villa Grimaldi detention centre and 36 of kidnapping, a charge that refers to people who disappeared in police custody and are presumed dead. Before charges could be filed, the Supreme Court had to uphold a ruling stripping him of his legal immunity.

What the defence said:
Gen Pinochet was not fit to stand trial. Lawyers also argued that there was no basis for the allegations - they said a face-to-face meeting between their client and the former head of the secret police, ordered by a judge, had cleared the general.


What it is about:
At least 119 dissidents are alleged to have been abducted by state forces and later killed in what was known as Operation Colombo in 1975. At the time, the government claimed that the victims had died in clashes between rival armed dissident groups.

Judicial process:
The former president spent seven weeks under house arrest, charged with the disappearance of nine dissidents, before being granted bail. During this time, the Supreme Court ruled Gen Pinochet was fit to stand trial and he was formally booked for the first time. The court was due to rule on the lifting of the general's immunity by a lower court so he could be investigated for the disappearance of 37 dissidents.

What the defence said:
Gen Pinochet did not order that anyone be tortured, killed or disappeared, and was not in charge of the secret police. His lawyers also disputed medical reports that suggest the former leader was fit to stand trial.


What it is about:
Operation Condor was established in 1975 by at least six South American military regimes - Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia - to hunt down and kill their left-wing opponents. A joint information centre was established at the headquarters of the Chilean secret police, the Dina, in Santiago.

Judicial process:
In December 2004, Judge Juan Guzman charged Gen Pinochet with nine counts of kidnapping and one of murder and placed him under house arrest. But, the following year, the appeals court ruled that he was not mentally fit to stand trial; the ruling was upheld by the top court. The case was expected to be dismissed.

What the defence says:
Gen Pinochet's lawyers successfully argued in this case that he was to ill to stand trial.


What it is about:
In October 1973, soon after the coup led by Gen Pinochet, a military "delegation" toured provincial cities in northern and southern Chile, killing 97 of the new regime's political opponents.

Judicial process:
In 2000, the appeals court stripped Gen Pinochet of his immunity so he could be charged with 18 kidnappings and 57 executions. The former leader was charged and placed under house arrest in January 2001. The appeals court later downgraded the charges - accusing him of being an accessory to the crimes rather than the author - before ruling he was unfit to face trial.

However, in January 2006, the appeals court lifted the former ruler's immunity so he could be investigated in connection with the deaths of two of President Salvador Allende's bodyguards during the Caravan.

What the defence says:
Gen Pinochet's lawyers denied he had any responsibility for the killings and argued he was not mentally capable of defending himself.


What it is about:
The former head of the army, Gen Carlos Prats, and his wife, Sofia, were killed in 1974 by a bomb detonated by the Chilean secret police in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

Judicial process:
Gen Pinochet was accused of being the intellectual author of the attack against his predecessor. In December 2004, the appeals court stripped the former ruler of his legal immunity in this case, but the ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court and later dismissed on procedural grounds. However, in 2006, the Buenos Aires district attorney issued an international warrant for Gen Pinochet's capture in connection with the killings.

What the defence says:
Lawyers for the general said there was no precedent to charge him in "such a horrible case". As in other cases, they also argued the general was unfit to stand trial.

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