The eldest daughter of former dictator Augusto Pinochet was taken into custody Saturday upon her return to Chile after seeking asylum in the United States to avoid tax charges.
A federal judge greeted a tired Lucia Pinochet Hiriart, 60, as she arrived from Buenos Aires, where she made a brief stopover after being sent back from Washington late Friday.
“Ms. Lucia, how nice that you’ve arrived. Please come with me so that I can arraign you,” Judge Carlos Cerda, who is handling the tax case against the Pinochet family, told her as she came off the plane.
She had fled Chile for neighboring Argentina by car on Jan. 22, a day before her mother and four siblings were arrested on charges of tax evasion and fraud. They have since been released on bail.
She then proceeded on to Washington, where she was detained at Dulles International Airport Wednesday and requested political asylum.
Pinochet Hiriart withdrew her asylum request Friday, and U.S. officials ordered her to return to Argentina—the last country she was in before she arrived in Washington.
“There was so much being said about me in Chile that I preferred to come and show my face and clear the air,” Pinochet Hiriart said when she was asked why she withdrew her asylum request.
Pinochet Hiriart has been charged in Chile with tax fraud related to about $1 million in undeclared taxes and falsification of documents in a widening tax evasion and fraud investigation involving the Pinochet family.
The accounts came to light after a U.S. Senate investigation of banking irregularities at the now-defunct Riggs Bank, based in Washington.
Augusto Pinochet, 90, took power in Chile in a 1973 military coup that toppled elected socialist President Salvador Allende. Pinochet has been blamed for the deaths of as many as 3,000 Chileans and torture of tens of thousands during his 17-year rule.
He was charged last year with evading taxes on an estimated $27 million hidden in foreign accounts and also faces charges on human rights abuses in dozens of cases. Prosecutors say Pinochet and his family stashed millions of dollars in more than 100 bank accounts outside of Chile.