Chile’s former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet has been placed under house arrest and indicted for the first time on torture charges for abuses at a secret detention centre where president Michelle Bachelet and her mother were once held, the judge handling the case reported today.
Two court officials notified Pinochet at his suburban Santiago mansion of the decision by Judge Alejandro Solis, who on Friday had charged Pinochet with one homicide, 35 kidnappings and 24 cases of torture at Villa Grimaldi, one of the most infamous detention centres in the early years of his 1973-1990 dictatorship.
Pinochet’s chief defence lawyer, Pablo Rodriguez, had said he will appeal Solis’ ruling “all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. We will use all the legal means at our disposal.”
Rodriguez insisted the 90-year-old former military ruler is unfit to stand trial because of poor health. Pinochet has been diagnosed a mild dementia, has sustained several minor strokes, suffers from diabetes and arthritis and needs a pacemaker.
Pinochet has been indicted on human rights charges several times before, but this is the first time he faces torture charges.