Starting today in U.S. District Court here, federal prosecutors will begin to recreate parts of a five-year-old Senate investigation of U.S. inteference in Chile's 1970 presidential election.
In attempting to prove that International Telephone & Telegraph Corp. official Robert Berrellez was guilty of perjury and conspiracy at the Senate hearings, the prosecutors are expected to call on many who participated in those highly publicized hearings. Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), who chaired the hearings, and Richard Helms, who was then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, are among those subpoenaed as possible witnesses.
But it is a group of less-well-known names - William Broe, Johnathan Hanke, Henry Hecksher, Ted Shackley, Tom Polgar and Jacob Esterline - that will draw much of the attention at the Berrellez trial.
They are CIA officers, and the trial could shed new light on the still-clouded role they and the agency played in the events in Chile and, later in the Senate investigation.
The Senate hearings in 1973 showed that ITT and CIA officials discussed their mutual concern about the election of leftist Salvador Allende. But they denied financing a campaign to stop him.
It was revealed two years later that the CIA had spent $13 million, with ITT contributing $350,000, in an unsuccessful effort to block Allende's election.
But ensuring perjury investigations were stymied by fears that national secrets might be exposed at trials. Helms, for instance, was allowed to plead no contest last fall to misdemeanor charges that he gave evasive testimony to the Senate.
That same concern about national security forced the government in August to drop three counts of an indictment against Edward J. Gerrity Jr., an ITT senior vice president. That case was a companion to Berrellez's and is now set for trial in December.
It is the conspiracy count of the Berrellez indictment that may furnish new details about the CIA's role in Chile and its relations with ITT.
Pretrial filings by the government allege that CIA officer Hanke joined Berrellez and Harold V. Hendrix, another ITT official, in an effort to obstruct the Senate investigation.
The indictment said that Hanke was in frequent contact with Berrellez and Hendrix right up to the time of the Senate hearings. At one time, Hendrix gave Hanke ITT documents, the indictment alleges.
Hendrix pleaded guilty in 1976 to a misdemeanor charge in connection with his Senate testimony and is cooperating with the government.
Berrellez, 58, was an ITT public relations official in South America in 1970. His attorney, Patrick A. Wall, has complained in pretrial hearings that the CIA was blocking his defense preparations by making heavy deletions on his notes of censored documents.
The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.