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Pinochet faces charges over secret-prison abuses

October 28, 2006|From the Associated Press

SANTIAGO, CHILE — Gen. Augusto Pinochet was indicted Friday in connection with abuses at one of his regime's secret prisons, where President Michelle Bachelet and her mother were once held and mistreated, a lawyer said.

Judge Alejandro Solis said he would make an announcement Monday on the indictment connected to abuses at Villa Grimaldi.

Local media said the 90-year-old former strongman would face charges in one homicide, 36 kidnappings and 23 cases of torture at the prison used by his secret police in the first five years of his 1973-90 dictatorship. The reports said the indictment included an order for Pinochet to remain under house arrest at his suburban Santiago mansion.

Solis, who questioned Pinochet earlier this month, has said Pinochet's health, including his mental condition, will not prevent him from standing trial, and that "he is lucid enough to understand the consequences of what he says."

During the questioning, Solis said, Pinochet said he did not remember and was not responsible for the actions of his security forces at the prison, where according to official reports 4,500 people were held and tortured and more than 200 disappeared.

Previous attempts to try Pinochet have failed after the courts dropped the charges on health grounds. He has been diagnosed with mild dementia resulting from several strokes. He also suffers from diabetes and arthritis and needs a pacemaker.

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