Chile

Pinochet money ‘from arms sales’

BBC
October 14, 2005

Chile’s former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, amassed some of his secret fortune with commissions from weapons sales, a state prosecutor has said.

Maria Teresa Munoz was speaking at a Chilean Supreme Court hearing to decide whether the general can be prosecuted for alleged tax evasion.

Gen Pinochet’s lawyer said the accusation was completely false.

He said the millions of dollars in the general’s bank accounts came from savings, investments and donations.

An investigating judge in Chile has concluded the former ruler had some $27m in foreign bank accounts.

Rights cases

Ms Munoz said the money had come from commissions Gen Pinochet received from weapons sales and misuse of government funds.

She was speaking before the Supreme Court, which is debating whether to uphold a decision by a lower court to lift Gen Pinochet’s immunity so that he can be investigated for tax evasion.

A verdict is expected later this month, but correspondents say the case has already damaged the former president’s image.

Efforts to try General Pinochet on human rights charges have so far failed.

The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions ruled that he is too ill to face trial. One case is still open, awaiting medical reports.

Critics accuse the 89-year-old, who suffers from diabetes, heart problems and mild dementia linked to minor strokes, of exaggerating his health problems to avoid standing trial.

More than 3,000 people died in political violence during his 1973-1990 regime, an official inquiry has concluded.

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