Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pinochet Family Arrested in Chile

Along with 13 military officers and 4 civilians

Just when most Chilean citizens had thought the Pinochet case had been forgotten by the local justice system, 23 people were arrested on Oct 4 by members of the Civilian police (known as Investigaciones).

At 7.00 a.m. the officers raided Pinochet`s mansión in the posh La Dehesa suburb and arrested the former Chilean dictators`s wife, Lucia Hiriart of 87 years of age. Due to the shock caused by the forceful entry of the police into her home, Mrs. Hiriart suffered an increase in her blood pressure and was taken in an ambulante to Santiago`s military hospital.
Simultaneously in other areas of the city, Investigaciones arrested Pinochet´s sons , Augusto and Marco Antonio and two daughters, Lucia, Jacqueline, and Verónica. All were taken to the Independencia Headquarters in downtown Santiago in police cars.

According to Judge Cerda, there is enough evidence to accuse the Pinochet family of having stolen approximately US$ 8.3 million from a state institution known as “Casa Militar” (Military House) , a Branch of the Army that must distribute funds to military personnel that are on missions in provincial regiments or in diplomatic embassies abroad. It is alleged that for two years (during the eighties) , Marco Antonio and his wife were paid a monthly allowance of US$30.000 while they were living in the United States.

Also several high ranking military officers were arrested in relation to the “Casa Militar” case, such as General Jorge Ballerino that was in charge of the “Casa Militar” from 1981 to 1984, Genaro Ramon Castro, a former assistant to Pinochet and General Guillermo Garin, former vicecommander of the Chilean army and also in charge of Casa Militar in 1985.
Among the most important civilians are Oscar Aitken,Pinochet`s financial adviser, Monica Ananias (personal secretary) and Coronel Gustavo Collao,(defense lawyer in human rights cases). The men were transferred at 16:00 hours local time to Santiago Uno, the new jail inaugurated last year, while the women were taken to the “Feminine Detention Center”.

Judge Carlos Cerda also investigates the origin of a bank account of US$28 million that was discovered in 2002 at the Riggs National Bank in Washington D.C.since there may be a connection with the funds diverted from “Casa Militar”.

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