Published on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 by Agence France-Presse
Pinochet Under House Arrest at Ranch
SANTIAGO, Chile - Chile's ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet was officially put under house arrest at his ranch, after the Supreme Court upheld his indictment on murder and kidnapping charges stemming from abuses during his 1973-1990 rule.
The official arrest, including a reading of charges, and requiring a signature from the accused, was delivered at Pinochet's Los Boldos ranch in Bucalemu, west of Santiago.
The charges -- one murder and nine kidnappings of people whose bodies were never found -- are related to Operation Condor, a 1970s conspiracy of South American dictatorships to collaborate on eliminating leftist opponents, real and perceived.
Pinochet, 89, has never stood trial for the disappearance and presumed murder of some 3,000 political opponents who vanished during his dictatorship, according to official count.
The ex-dictator suffered a mild stroke in mid-December and was briefly hospitalized but was said to be recovering. Since Thursday, he has been staying at Los Boldos, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of Santiago, on the Chilean coast.
According to Juan Guzman Tapia, the judge handling the case, Pinochet authorized Operation Condor in November 1975 following a meeting of secret services from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay in Santiago.
In July 2002 the Supreme Court found that Pinochet suffered from mild dementia and was unable to stand trial on charges relating to the "Caravan of Death," some 75 summary executions carried out after the 1973 coup.
However, the prosecution successfully argued that the former dictator has since given clear signs of being lucid.
In November 2003, Pinochet showed no hint of dementia when interviewed by a Miami television station, even joking and describing himself as feeling like "an angel."
And in August 2004 Pinochet gave detailed answers to another judge investigating his secret bank accounts holding up to 15 million dollars at Riggs Bank in Washington, discovered in June.
Chile's tax service and the State Defense Council have opened corruption investigations.
"You can see, beyond a doubt, his perfect ability to distinguish clearly between what is important or not, between good and evil," Guzman wrote.
Pinochet's lawyers are now expected to present appeals urging that the trial be halted on health grounds.
Copyright © 2005 AFP