Kin Says Former Chilean President Killed

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 9:26 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The family of former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva filed a court complaint on Wednesday, claiming the former leader was assassinated by poisoning in 1982.

It named unspecified "groups of individuals related to military intelligence" under the dictatorship of the Gen. Augusto Pinochet, of whom Frei was a leading opponent.

The complaint filed by Frei's son, also named Eduardo and also a former president.

The elder Frei died on Jan. 22, 1982, from septic shock as he recovered from stomach surgery at a Santiago clinic.

The case has been investigated for years by the courts, and the family and other associates insist the former leader was assassinated by poisoning.

The younger Frei, who was president from 1994 to 2000 and is currently the head of the Senate, said the family decided to move ahead with the legal action after a Belgian university investigation found mustard gas in the body of the former Christian Democratic leader.

Local media reports said the report was prepared by a laboratory of the Gent University in Belgium, but Frei refused to elaborate.

As he left the court after filing the complaint, Frei said there were "too many strange things" around the case of his father, including lost medical reports, an unauthorized autopsy and continuous surveillance on him by unidentified individuals before he was hospitalized.

Frei governed from 1964 to 1970, when he was succeeded by Salvador Allende, the first freely elected Marxist president in the Western Hemisphere. Allende was toppled in a bloody 1973 coup led by Pinochet.

At the time of his death at 71, Frei was a leading figure in the opposition to Pinochet.

© 2007 The Associated Press