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Spanish judge investigating Pinochet widow's finances

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-01

A Spanish judge has opened a money-laundering investigation involving the widow of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, ordering her and three other accused to pay bail of 77 million dollars or face freezes on their bank accounts.

AFP - Spain's investigative magistrate Baltasar Garzon has opened a probe into the widow of late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, accused of massive money-laundering, court documents showed Monday.
  
Garzon ordered Lucia Hiriart, 86, and three other officials to pay bail totalling 77 million dollars (51 million euros) within 10 days in a written decision issued on October 26 and made public on Monday.
  
Garzon warned that if the four failed to pay the bail by the deadline, he would take steps to block their bank accounts for a total of over 100 million dollars.
  
It was unclear whether Hiriart and her co-accused had made the bail payment.
  
The top-selling Spanish daily newspaper El Pais reported Monday that Garzon intends to use the money to compensate Spanish victim of the Pinochet regime.
  
The case relates to an investigation launched in 1998 into the torture and disappearance of Spanish citizens during Pinochet’s regime, which was later extended to cover the disappearance of his family’s massive fortune and its alleged laundering.
  
Pinochet was arrested in 1998 at a London hospital where he was recovering from minor back surgery at Garzon's request for alleged crimes of genocide, terrorism and torture carried out during his 17-year rule.
  
He was detained for 18 months while Spain's extradition request was considered but in the end he was declared to be too frail and was released.
  
The three others under investigation for money-laundering along with Pinochet's widow are her lawyer, Oscar Custodio Aitken, and two former executives with the Bank of Chile, Pablo Granifo and Hernan Donoso.
  
Pinochet seized power in 1973 in a coup in which over 3,000 people were killed and he ruled the country for the next 17 years. He died in 2006.

Date created : 2009-12-01

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