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Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Pinochet-era 'disappeared' found

General Augusto Pinochet (file)
Gen Pinochet died in 2006 without facing trial for human rights abuses

Three people listed as "disappeared" in Chile during General Augusto Pinochet's military rule have been found or died in other circumstances, it has emerged. Their names surfaced as investigators looked into a previous non-victim who has lived in Argentina for 35 years.

Gen Pinochet's supporters have long said reports of the missing, officially put at more than 1,183, are false.

President Michelle Bachelet, who was detained in the 1970s, said these cases must not cast doubt on Chile's missing.

"Speaking as a woman who herself suffered this pain and as president of the nation, I am not going to accept that the suffering of families who are still awaiting truth and justice be taken advantage of nor much less played with," said President Bachelet.

She said she hoped all political forces would oppose any attempt to manipulate or score points over a subject that Chilean society had confronted with "responsibility and maturity".

The cases have given ammunition to supporters of the late Gen Pinochet who have long argued that cases of the "disappeared" are ficititious, says the BBC's Gideon Long in Santiago.

They have also embarrassed the state which has handed out thousands of dollars in compensation to the victims' families, he adds.

Special payments

The first case came to light in November when it was discovered that a person on the official list of missing, German Cofre, had been living in Argentina for the past 35 years.

He had supposedly been abducted and killed by Gen Pinochet's forces in 1973, the year the general took power in a military coup.

The three new cases emerged over the weekend.

Edgardo Palacios, a Socialist activist, died in 2006 while Carlos Rojas Campos was located in Buenos Aires.

The third, Emperatriz Villagra, died in childbirth in 1955, according to her family, who were not paid any compensation. It is not known how her name came to be put on the list of victims.

Officials have suspended special benefit payments to the families of Palacios and Rojas Campos.

A judge has been appointed to see if there are more people listed as missing who are alive or died in different circumstances.

Official lists put the number of victims of the military dictatorship at 3,195, of which 1,183 are listed as "disappeared".



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Did Pinochet kill or cure Chile?
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Timeline: Chile
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