Former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet was indicted Monday and ordered to remain under house arrest for the execution of two bodyguards of Salvador Allende, the freely elected Marxist president who was toppled in a 1973 coup.
The indictment came after Pinochet’s 91st birthday Saturday, which he marked by issuing a statement for the first time taking full political responsibility for abuses committed by his regime.
Monday’s indictment was the fifth time Pinochet has been put under house arrest on charges stemming from human rights violations during his 1973-90 dictatorship. The document was issued by Judge Victor Montiglio, the Supreme Court press office said.
Pinochet was stripped of his immunity from prosecution in the case last July.
The indictment alleges kidnapping and homicide in connection with the deaths of two Allende bodyguards — Wagner Salinas and Francisco Lara — who were arrested the day of the coup, Sept. 11, 1973. Both were executed by firing squad four weeks later, the military regime announced at the time. Salinas was a former South American heavyweight boxing champion.
More than 15 of Allende’s bodyguards and aides were taken from the government palace during the coup and remain unaccounted for. Allende committed suicide during the military’s bombardment of the palace.
There was no immediate reaction from Pinochet’s lawyers, but they are expected to appeal the indictment to the Supreme Court, as they have in earlier cases.
Health matters block trial
Two of those cases were closed when the courts ruled Pinochet’s health prevented him from standing trial. In addition to Monday’s indictment, three others are pending, two alleging human rights violations and a third charging tax evasion.
Pinochet has been diagnosed with a mild dementia caused by several strokes. He also suffers from diabetes and arthritis, and needs a pacemaker.
On Saturday, Pinochet issued a statement taking political — though not explicitly legal — responsibility for the actions of his regime.
“Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbor no rancor against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all and that I take political responsibility for everything that was done which had no other goal than making Chile greater and avoiding its disintegration,” he said.
Scores of other legal actions have been filed against Pinochet by relatives of victims of his regime. During his rule, 3,197 people were killed for political reasons, according to an independent commission report.