Court dismisses two charges in Pinochet case

Santiago, Chile - A Chilean appeals court dismissed two charges against ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet on Friday related to judicial investigations of his multimillion dollar offshore accounts.

The Santiago Appeals Court dismissed charges of falsifying Defence Ministry documents and false declarations of assets, but rejected the defence's request to dismiss charges of tax evasion and falsifying passports.

"We are very pleased with the decision, because of the four charges (in this case) pending against General Pinochet, only two remain," Pinochet's head legal defence council, Pablo Rodriguez, told journalists on Friday.

Pinochet, 90, is being investigated in dozens of human rights cases stemming from abuses during his 1973-1990 rule, but he has yet to be convicted and some cases have stalled due to his ill health. He lives out of the public spotlight and has become irrelevant in Chilean politics.

The courts have convicted more than 94 military officers and former secret service agents for rights abuses during Pinochet's regime.

Pinochet has paid back taxes that he owed on the money hidden in the offshore bank accounts, which came to light in 2004 and alienated many Pinochet loyalists who thought he had run a clean government and that the rights abuse were justified in the fight against Communism.

Rodriguez said he was confident the remaining two charges in the accounts case would eventually be thrown out.

"All he did was hide his money, and now, he has even paid all his taxes," Rodriguez said.

The court is also investigating the source of the money in the accounts, which has been estimated at $27-million or more.

  • Additional reporting by Erik Lopez.

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