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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 September 2007, 04:28 GMT 05:28 UK
Chile priest charged over deaths
General Augusto Pinochet (file)
Gen Pinochet died in 2006 without facing trial for human rights abuses
Twelve people in Chile - including a Catholic priest - have been charged over death squad killings during the military rule of Augusto Pinochet.

It is the first time a Catholic priest has been charged over abuses committed during Gen Pinochet's dictatorship.

Luis Jorquera - whose whereabouts are not known - is accused of covering up the deaths of 28 dissidents.

More than 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" during military rule in Chile between 1973 and 1990.

Bodies 'exhumed'

Mr Jorquera was quoted by a newspaper in the Chilean capital of Santiago as denying his involvement in the operation, known as the Caravan of Death.

Witnesses say he was involved in exhuming the victims two years after they were killed. The corpses were then wrapped in sacks and dumped from a plane into the sea.

He was a chaplain at a military prison camp set up in Chile's north shortly after Gen Pinochet seized power in a coup on 11 September 1973.

The Court of Appeals in Antofagasta, in northern Chile, charged the 12 - also including retired Army Gen Miguel Trincado and Army Maj Armando Fernandez Larios - over involvement in the squad.

The Caravan of Death was a military operation that travelled the country to remove opponents of Pinochet's rule.

It was one of the most notorious cases of human rights violations under Gen Pinochet and responsible for 75 summary executions, court documents say.

Gen Pinochet - who died on 10 December, 2006 - was accused of fraud as well as human rights abuses, but poor health meant he never faced trial.

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