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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Pinochet family released on bail
General Augusto Pinochet (file)
Gen Pinochet died in 2006 without facing trial for human rights abuses
Relatives of Chile's former military leader, Gen Augusto Pinochet, have been released on bail a day after their arrest on charges of embezzlement.

His widow and five children are accused of illegally transferring $27m (13.2m) to foreign bank accounts during the general's rule between 1973 and 1990.

Sixteen other suspects were also granted conditional release.

The general died in December 2006 before he could stand trial on charges of corruption and human rights abuses.

More than 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" during his military rule.

Aides implicated

Judge Carlos Cerda, who authorised the releases, is investigating a case in which Gen Pinochet allegedly hid funds with the help of Washington-based Riggs bank.

RIGGS CASE
2004 US probe into Riggs bank found Gen Pinochet held up to $8m in secret accounts there
Accounts alleged to have been opened in names of his widow, children and associates
Further investigations found former ruler held some $27m in foreign accounts
Gen Pinochet charged with tax evasion and using false passports to open accounts abroad
His lawyers say fortune gained legally through savings, donations and accrued interest

Suspects include Gen Pinochet's former personal secretary, Monica Ananias, and his lawyer Gustavo Collao.

At least three retired army generals - Jorge Ballerino, Guillermo Garin and Hector Letelier - were also charged.

In 2004 a US Senate investigation found hundreds of bank accounts in the name of Pinochet and his relatives at the bank. He was being investigated for tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement in relation to those funds.

His immunity from prosecution was stripped in 2000, sparking years of legal wrangling to try to bring him to trial for alleged human rights abuses and tax fraud.

His lawyers said he was unable to defend himself for health reasons.

In 2006, Gen Pinochet died of a heart attack aged 91 while under house arrest.



SEE ALSO
Pinochet legacy still in dispute
11 Dec 06 |  Americas
Chile MPs urge Pinochet monument
19 Dec 06 |  Americas
Tributes paid at Pinochet funeral
12 Dec 06 |  Americas
Chile's Gen Pinochet dies at 91
11 Dec 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
21 Jun 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Chile
20 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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