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Widow, Children of Pinochet Arrested in Hiding of Millions

By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, October 5, 2007

BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 4 -- The widow and five children of Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet were arrested Thursday for their alleged roles in hiding millions of government dollars in bank accounts in Washington and elsewhere.

Pinochet died last December before facing trial on numerous charges of human rights abuses and corruption. He was accused of illegally keeping more than $27 million in overseas banks, including the now-defunct Riggs Bank in Washington. Prosecutors had been following the trail of that money for three years before his death, contending that it had been embezzled from the government that he led from 1973 to 1990.

In addition to the family members, 17 other people were ordered arrested Thursday for their suspected roles in aiding -- or benefiting from -- Pinochet's illegal financial dealings. They include several former military officers, his personal secretary, a former auditor general of the army and Pinochet's former defense attorney.

"There are solid presumptions in the sense that those persons who are relatives of [Pinochet], who rests in peace, had to have participated in this crime," said Carlos Cerda, the judge in charge of the "Riggs Case," as it is commonly called in Chile.

The arrested family members are Pinochet's widow, Mar¿a Luc¿a Hiriart Rodr¿guez; sons Augusto Osvaldo Pinochet Hiriart and Marco Antonio Pinochet Hiriart; and daughters In¿s Luc¿a Pinochet Hiriart, Jacqueline Marie Pinochet Hiriart and Mar¿a Ver¿nica Pinochet Hiriart.

Pinochet spent his later years defending himself from court actions against his government, which was responsible for 3,000 deaths and 29,000 cases of torture, according to government investigations involving thousands of witnesses. Among those tortured was current President Michelle Bachelet.

"This is a country where no one is above the law," Bachelet told reporters Thursday after the arrests, according to the Santiago newspaper La Tercera.

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