Supporters Protest as Pinochet Is Put Under House Arrest

From Associated Press

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who once ruled Chile unchallenged, was put under house arrest Wednesday after he was formally notified that he faces homicide and kidnapping charges.

Angry supporters of the former ruler shouted insults as two vehicles carrying court officials and police officers sped to Pinochet’s countryside home in Bucalemu, 80 miles southwest of Santiago, the capital, to serve him notice that Judge Juan Guzman had indicted him and ordered his house arrest.

The procedure marked the enforcement of Monday’s house arrest order, meaning that Pinochet must remain confined to his rural residence.


Lawyers for the 85-year-old former dictator, meanwhile, continued to prepare their appeals to try to have the charges and the arrest order annulled.

Members of Pinochet’s legal team and several right-wing politicians were inside the house as the notice was served.

Retired Gen. Luis Cortes Villa, one of Pinochet’s closest associates, urged the demonstrators, who chanted pro-Pinochet slogans, to remain calm and allow the notification to be completed.

The charges filed by Guzman on Monday stem from the “Caravan of Death,” one of the most notorious cases of human rights abuses during Pinochet’s 1973-90 dictatorship.

The caravan was a military group that executed 75 political prisoners shortly after the 1973 coup led by Pinochet. The remains of 18 of the victims were never recovered.

Pinochet’s lawyers were planning to appeal on two fronts, according to lawyer Ambrosio Rodriguez.


Rodriguez told state television that one appeal will insist that Pinochet’s old age and poor health prevent him from properly defending himself, thus violating his constitutional right to a just trial.

Pinochet suffers from “moderate dementia,” according to medical tests ordered by Guzman last month.

In indicting Pinochet, the judge ruled that the former dictator’s mental condition “reduces, but doesn’t eliminate” his capacity to stand trial.

A second appeal, lawyer Rodriguez said, will seek to prove that the indictment issued by Guzman is “baseless” because the judge allegedly lacks proof against Pinochet.