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  HOME | Chile

Chile Prosecutors Seek to Re-Open Probe of Pinochet’s Wealth

SANTIAGO – The Chilean state prosecution service, known as the CDE, asked the Santiago Appeals Court to reopen the probe into the origin of Augusto Pinochet’s massive fortune with an eye toward investigating actions by his widow as president-for-life of a social institution.

Thus reported the satirical magazine The Clinic on Monday, saying that the investigation would focus on the origin and allocation of the assets of CEMA Chile, a foundation created in 1957 by President Carlos Ibañez del Campo with the aim of helping low-income women organize cooperatives to improve their economic situation.

He made his wife the head of the foundation, setting a precedent that was followed by subsequent administrations.

When Gen. Pinochet seized power in a September 1973 coup, his wife, Lucia Hiriart, took charge of CEMA Chile, changing the foundation’s statutes to allow her to remain in the post indefinitely.

The CDE turned to the appellate panel after a lower court initially refused to reopen the case.

Pinochet, whose 1973-1990 regime killed more than 3,000 people while jailing, torturing or exiling tens of thousands more, died in December 2006 of a heart attack at the age of 91.

He was facing indictments for both human rights abuses and corruption at the time of his death, and the investigation into the $26 million he had in accounts at Washington’s Riggs Bank – first uncovered by a U.S. Senate committee probe – led to charges against Hiriart and the couple’s five children.

However, the inquiry that looked into the involvement of Pinochet’s relatives was ended in 2013 by Judge Manuel Valderrama without any charges.

 

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