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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 October 2007, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Pinochet family bail is approved
General Augusto Pinochet (file)
Gen Pinochet died in 2006 without facing trial for human rights abuses
A Chilean appeals court has approved a bail order for relatives of former military leader Gen Augusto Pinochet who are facing embezzlement charges.

His widow and five children were granted conditional release on Friday after their arrest a day earlier.

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

The court order also covers 16 other suspects arrested and then bailed.

The general died last year 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.

Investigators are looking into allegations that Gen Pinochet hid funds with the help of Washington-based Riggs bank.

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, his lawyer and at least three retired army generals.

In 2004 a US Senate investigation found hundreds of bank accounts in the name of Pinochet and his relatives at Riggs 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.

But the general had a fatal heart attack in December 2006 while under house arrest. He was 91.

The eldest son of Gen Augusto Pinochet reacts

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20 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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