Pinochet charged with corruption

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is facing charges over secret multi-million-dollar US bank accountsWhile Pinochet has allegedly breached human rights, this is the first time charges of corruption have been levelled against him.

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is facing charges over secret multi-million-dollar US bank accounts

While Pinochet has allegedly breached human rights, this is the first time charges of corruption have been levelled against him.

The charges were laid by Chilean lawyers Carmen Hertz and Alfonso Insunza after a US congressional investigation found that Washington, DC's Riggs Bank had ignored banking regulations to launder money between 1994 and 2002.
The accounts held between four million and eight million US dollars.

"Chilean justice must investigate however many crimes Pinochet has committed," Mrs Hertz said, after entering the charges at Santiago's Court of Appeals.

"I have no prior indications to establish the origin of these accounts, nor of the funds that were deposited in those accounts," lawyer Pablo Rodriguez admitted, after meeting other members of Pinochet's defence team.

"No one in Chile is above the law, Lagos said in New York after meeting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Chile's State Defence Council announced Tuesday that it, too, would file unspecified charges against Pinochet.

The president of the council, which oversees the interests of the state, said earlier that it would investigate how a soldier could have amassed such a fortune, by examining the origins of Pinochet's money and whether Pinochet had defrauded the state or evaded taxes in the process.

"That money is donations and from his personal savings," Pinochet's son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, told local Radio Agricultura.

US President George W Bush has promised a full investigation into whether Riggs discreetly helped the former leader hide assets after his arrest in London in October 1998, when Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon issued a warrant for his capture.

The two lawyers were part of a group who four years ago brought charges against Pinochet for some of the more than 3,000 deaths officially recognized to have occurred during the military regime 1973-1990.

However, the case was closed in 2002 when Pinochet was found to be suffering from dementia and unable to defend himself.

"Pinochet has committed crimes against the general interests of at least three countries: Chile, Spain and the United States and the crime of fraud against the families of the victims of his crimes that we take before Spanish courts," Mrs Hertz said.

Her husband was killed soon after the military took power in 1973, the so-called "Caravan of Death" for which Pinochet had been charged but never faced trial, claiming dementia.
Source SBS

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