[JURIST] Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] publicly assumed "full political responsibility" for the actions of his 1973-90 military regime in a statement released Saturday. The statement was read aloud by his wife at the celebration of Pinochet's 91st birthday, and marked the first time Pinochet has taken responsibility for his regime's actions, which included human rights abuses that Pinochet has previously attributed to subordinates. Pinochet nonetheless justified the military coup against Socialist Salvador Allende that brought him to power as having being necessary to preserve Chile's integrity amid "the continuation and worsening of the worse political and economic crisis than one can remember." The former dictator also made reference to his trial, which he characterized as being "vexation, persecution and injustices affecting [Pinochet] and [his] family" which he "gladly [offers] for the sake of harmony and peace that must prevail amongst Chileans."
Pinochet, established as a lifetime senator under Article 45 of the 1980 Chilean Constitution [PDF text], has general immunity from prosecution, which requires a separate decision on whether to lift his immunity each time charges are brought against him. Pinochet has been stripped of immunity in a case involving the 1974 disappearance of Spanish priest Antonio Llido [JURIST report], and cases involving kidnapping, torture, and homicide [JURIST report], and tax evasion [JURIST report]. AP has more. El Mercurio has local coverage.