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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 20:35 GMT
Pinochet daughter held in Chile
Lucia Pinochet (file picture, 2005)
Ms Pinochet arrived in the US from Argentina
The eldest daughter of former Chilean military ruler Augusto Pinochet has been detained, after arriving back in Chile to face tax evasion charges.

Lucia Pinochet, 60, was served notice of the charges that also include passport fraud as she returned from a bid to seek political asylum in the US.

She gave up after being detained in Washington and flew home via Argentina.

She is one of five members of Gen Pinochet's family to be charged with tax evasion - but denies wrongdoing.

Ms Pinochet was detained when she arrived back in Chile's capital, Santiago, on Saturday.

A Chilean judge had issued an international warrant for her arrest and boarded her plane to inform her of the indictments.

'Political persecution'

He then ordered her detention, where she will remain until at least Monday, when the Santiago Court of Appeals will decide whether or not to uphold the bail she was granted before travelling to the US last week.

On her arrival in the US, at Washington's Dulles airport, she was denied entry and taken into custody.

She had arrived from Argentina and was transferred to an immigration service detention centre while her position was assessed.

Gen Pinochet's wife, Lucia Hiriart, after being granted bail
Gen Pinochet's wife was granted bail on Tuesday

She told a reporter on her flight home that during her short stay there she was "very badly treated" and forced to wear a prison uniform.

Three of her siblings, her mother and Gen Pinochet have also been charged with tax fraud in connection with secret foreign bank accounts.

The other family members have been granted bail.

Ms Pinochet is said to have driven from Chile to Argentina on Sunday, the same day that reports about the possible arrest of the four Pinochet siblings and their mother appeared in the press.

According to the Chilean tax office, Lucia Pinochet has evaded $859,000 (480,000) in taxes.

Foreign accounts

One of Ms Pinochet's brothers, Marco Antonio, described the charges - which also include the use of false passports - as "political persecution" against the Pinochet family.

The investigation into the family's finances began in 2004, after a US Senate probe into Riggs Bank found that Gen Pinochet held secret accounts worth $8m there.

Further investigations found that the former ruler held more $26m in foreign accounts.

He is accused of failing to pay nearly $2.5m in taxes between 1980 and 2004, and is also being investigated for embezzlement of state funds.

The courts have stripped Gen Pinochet of the legal immunity he enjoys as a former president in several cases, including human rights ones, but he has yet to face trial.


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