[News] Pinochet Placed Under House Arrest in Rights Case

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Wed Jan 5 19:20:44 EST 2005

Pinochet Placed Under House Arrest in Rights Case
Al-Jazeerah edited news report, Wed Jan 5, 2005 10:47 AM ET

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) -

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest 
Wednesday after the country's top court ruled that murder and kidnapping 
charges against him can move forward.

The arrest order was delivered to Pinochet's country estate a short 
distance from the Pacific coast. Pinochet was placed under house arrest 
once before in Chile -- for six weeks in 2001 in another human rights case, 
which was later dismissed.

His arrest came after Chile's Supreme Court Tuesday upheld a lower court 
decision rejecting a defense motion arguing Pinochet was unfit to be 
charged because he suffered dementia.

While on house arrest, Pinochet will remain under the guard of a military 
police battalion.

Charges against him relate (initially) to the death and disappearances of 
10 leftists in the 1970s during a campaign by South American dictator to 
get rid of dissidents.

The court's unprecedented decision brought the former dictator one step 
closer to his first trial in a major human rights case, but the defense 
will still have other opportunities to halt the case.

More than 3,000 people died and 27,000 were tortured during Pinochet's 
17-year rule, which ended in 1990. He has never been tried for human rights 
violations, but various military officers who served him have been 
convicted of rights crimes.

In 1974, Pinochet let a military coup against the democratically-elected 
President, Salvador Allende, who was killed in the coup. Allende was a 
Marxist political science professor who worked for the good of the poor 
working class, which angered the Chilean wealthy upper class and its 
multinational corporate protectors. They got rid of him and his 
democratically-elected socialist government by dictatorial forces.

Pinochet's trial and expected punishment are of great importance as they 
send a clear message to world dictators that they would be held accountable 
for their actions one day and even their foreign superpower allies would 
not protect them.

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