Pinochet son on fraud charge

The Australian
October 8, 2004

Former dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s older son was formally charged today with fraud in an investigation linked to the illegal sale of vehicles, and prosecutors said they will seek a three-year prison sentence.

Augusto Pinochet Hiriart, 58, who was detained for two days last July in the case, was charged with using vehicles with fake license plates, receiving a stolen automobile and tampering with fiscal bills.

Two other men were also briefly detained along with Pinochet Hiriart, but it was not immediately clear whether they had also been charged.

The case is developing in Curico, a city 180km south of Santiago, where prosecutor Vinko Fodic has banned Pinochet Hiriart from leaving the country.

Pinochet Hiriart did not immediately comment.

But in July, following his release from a two-day prison stay, he denied any wrongdoing and said he is “convinced” he will be able to prove his innocence and that he is a “man of honour”.

Pinochet Hiriart’s legal troubles come as his father is being sued by the National Tax Service for the recent disclosure that he had nearly $US8 million ($11 million) in secret accounts at a Riggs Bank in the United States from 1994 to 2002.

The probe aims at establishing the source of the funds, which family members and associates of Pinochet say may have come from donations.

But because of his ailing health, the investigation has dragged on.

Pinochet, 88, has been diagnosed with a mild case of dementia among other conditions.

The health problems have led local courts to pronounce him unfit to stand trial and drop charges in a number of lawsuits stemming from human rights abuses during his 1973-90 regime.

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