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Chilean Leftists Protest, Call for Prosecution of Pinochet

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  • Clore Daniel C
    With marches and calls to prosecute Pinochet, Chilean leftists protest SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- More than 4,000 Chileans marched in a downpour Sunday to recall
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2000
      With marches and calls to prosecute Pinochet, Chilean leftists protest

      SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- More than 4,000 Chileans marched in a
      downpour Sunday to recall the 27th anniversary of the bloody
      coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, shouting slogans and
      demanding trial for the former dictator.

      Cold weather and a steady rain did not dampen the protest as
      leftists, human rights activists and families of those who
      fell victim to the past dictatorship marched with banners
      demanding his prosecution. Police said between 4,000 and
      5,000 people took part.

      Amid a heavy police presence along the route, no violence was
      reported as the demonstrators walked some 4 kilometers (2 1/2
      miles) from downtown Santiago to the cemetery where Salvador
      Allende is buried.

      Allende, the former Marxist president, committed suicide
      September 11, 1973, the day of the Pinochet-led coup in his
      presidential palace. The coup opened the way for 16 1/2
      years of iron-fisted rule. An official report after Pinochet
      left power in 1990 said 3,197 people died or disappeared under
      his right-wing military regime.

      In other activities recalling the anniversary, socialist
      President Ricardo Lagos attended a Roman Catholic Mass in the
      chapel at the presidential palace, La Moneda, to remember
      Allende. He was joined by Allende's widow, Hortensia Bussi,
      cabinet ministers and others.

      Following the service, Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza,
      a socialist, said he saw no signs of remorse from Pinochet,
      adding he had never seen the former strongman "shed a tear"
      for any of the abuses committed under his rule.

      Pinochet and leaders of the armed forces have said all along
      that there has never been any reason to ask forgiveness for
      what occurred. The former dictator has said he was fighting
      to save Chile from chaos when he took power.

      During the day, Sen. Ricardo Nunez and other fellow socialists
      gathered on the side of the presidential palace at the exact
      site where Allende's body was removed 27 years ago, after the
      committed suicide rather than surrender to the coup leaders
      who had bombarded the palace.

      Currently, Pinochet is mired in legal battles at home, stripped
      of the immunity from prosecution he had once enjoyed as a senator-
      for-life. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, by a 14-6 vote,
      upheld a lower court decision that could pave the way a Pinochet

      Some 170 criminal complaints have been filed against Pinochet
      and are now being investigated by a federal prosecutor, Judge
      Juan Guzman.

      Among those cases, opponents of the former dictator want to try
      Pinochet in connection with the October 1973 disappearances of
      19 dissidents who were plucked from their jail cells shortly
      after the coup and never seen again.

      That month, a group of military offices traveled the country by
      helicopter, and reports said they summarily executed dozens of
      political prisoners, including the 19 whose bodies were never

      Myrella Garcia, who belongs to a group of families whose relatives
      disappeared under the dictatorship, said this anniversary still
      "fills us with pain."

      But in apparent allusion to Pinochet's legal battles, she said
      "this year there is more hope and joy."

      Dan Clore

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