Page last updated at 00:30 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 01:30 UK

Chile seeks 'Dirty War' arrests


The suspects all worked for the secret police agency, Dina

A Chilean judge has issued arrest warrants for 129 people for allegedly helping to purge critics of former ruler General Augusto Pinochet.

The suspects - the largest group so far to face arrest warrants - all worked for the secret police agency, Dina.

They are accused of taking part in killings and disappearances of dozens of leftists and opposition activists.

Since Gen Pinochet left power in 1990, arrests of his agents have been frequent - often dividing opinion.

The warrants also name dozens of former military and security officials who had never faced charges before.


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

Anti-Pinochet activists have broadly supported the move to punish those responsible for torture and murder.

But many Chileans have questioned the wisdom of continuing to chase down suspects, saying many of those now being arrested were little more than foot-soldiers.

Thousands of activists were killed or disappeared during the 1973-1990 rule of Gen Pinochet.

Judge Victor Montiglio's latest warrants relate to operations when Dina agents purged opponents of the general.

The first is Operation Condor - a long-running campaign launched in the mid-1970s to hunt down and kill left-wingers.

Condor was a continent-wide operation, also backed by the rulers of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.


Another incident cited in the court papers is Operation Colombo, referring to the 1975 killing of 119 Chilean activists.

And the judge also cited the case of 10 Communists who disappeared in 1976.

The arrests are expected to begin on Wednesday.

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