Chile judge discloses report detailing Pinochet secret fortune

[JURIST] Chilean judge Manuel Valderrama disclosed on Wednesday a report on the extent and sources of the secret fortune of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] that amounts to $25,978,602 in accounts held outside of Chile, of which $20,199,753 is suspected to to have been embezzled from official funds. The funds were accumulated [Los Tiempos report, in Spanish] over the period from 1973 to 2004, when a Senate sub-committee investigation uncovered the accounts [JURIST report]. On Tuesday, retired general Sergio Moreno Saravia was detained in connection with the embezzlement case on an order [press release, in Spanish] from Valderrama. During the Pinochet regime, Saravia exercised discretion over funds that belonged to the presidency and chief army command and would have been an accomplice to transfer the funds outside of the country. Also on Tuesday, Judge Victor Montiglio ordered the arrests [BBC report] of 129 suspects in connection with Pinochet-era "Dirty War" human rights violations on charges of aggravated kidnapping and homicide. Of the 129 former secret police agents, 25 have already been detained, and more than half of them have never faced charges. All 129 allegedly played a role in detaining and then guarding enforced disappearance victims. The orders were issued in connection with investigations on three separate "Dirty War" operations: Operation Condor, Operation Colombo [JURIST news archives], and the Calle Conferencia case. Montiglio had previously brought charges [JURIST report] against Pinochet for his role in Operacion Colombo.

In April, Montiglio charged [JURIST report] three former senior Pinochet-era military officers as accomplices for their role in the October 1973 killings of 14 leftist political opponents as part of the so-called "Caravan of Death" [BBC backgrounder]. Pinochet's youngest son, former secretary, and estate executor have previously been indicted [JURIST report] for their actions around Pinochet's finances for maliciously making false or incomplete tax declarations. In January 2006, Pinochet's wife, four of five children, daughter-in-law, and former secretary and lawyer were indicted, but a year later the Santiago Court of Appeals dropped most of the charges [JURIST reports]. In October 2007, 23 family members and former associates, including Pinochet's wife, five children, former secretary, and three retired army generals, were indicted [JURIST report] on corruption charges for aiding Pinochet in the "misuse of fiscal funds" during his regime. The following month, the Supreme Court of Chile upheld an appeals court decision to drop the charges [JURIST reports] because the accused were not government employees at the time and thus could not be charged with embezzling government funds.

 

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