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Chilean Court Upholds Indictment of Pinochet

Associated Press
Wednesday, January 5, 2005; Page A12

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 4 -- Chile's Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the indictment and house arrest of Gen. Augusto Pinochet for nine kidnappings and one homicide allegedly committed during his dictatorial rule that was marked by pervasive human rights abuses.

The court's 3-to-2 vote cleared the way for Pinochet, 89, to be tried on the latest charges brought against him stemming from his rule from 1973 to 1990.

_____Special Report_____
Pinochet and the Law

"The sentence that has been appealed has been confirmed," Carlos Meneses, the court secretary, said, referring to appeals by Pinochet's attorneys of a Dec. 13 lower court ruling that found him fit to stand trial despite his advanced age and flagging health.

The ruling prompted applause and cheers from gathered relatives of alleged victims of Pinochet's regime.

"We are happy, the entire world is happy," said Lorena Pizarro, president of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared. "Pinochet cannot continue to live in impunity."

Pinochet remained at his countryside residence west of Santiago, where he is under house arrest. His doctors said he had recently suffered a mild stroke.

Tuesday's ruling upheld only the legality of the historic Dec. 13 indictment and house arrest ordered by Judge Juan Guzman. The charges against Pinochet stem from Operation Condor, a covert international operation by South American dictatorships to capture and kill prominent opponents.

The Supreme Court in 2002 struck down a separate indictment against Pinochet on other human rights charges after doctors diagnosed the former dictator with moderate dementia.

Judges later rejected those arguments after Pinochet appeared lucid during a lengthy interview on a Miami-based television station.


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