Willamette World News

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Marlene Molina

Pinochet’s health tested before trial
On Tuesday, former dictator Augusto Pinochet underwent a series of court-ordered medical tests to determine whether he can stand trial on human rights charges. Mr. Pinochet remained for two and half hours at the downtown Catholic University Hospital . No details were available on the exams. The top court last month stripped the 89-year-old retired general of the immunity from prosecution he enjoys as former president, a mandatory step before he can be tried for his alleged role in the disappearance and killing of 15 dissidents during his 1973-90 regime, a case known as “Operation Colombo.”
But the court ruled that medical tests must show he’s able to stand trial before court action could begin.
The Supreme Court has twice blocked attempts to try Mr. Pinochet on human rights charges citing health reasons. Mr. Pinochet has been diagnosed a mild case of dementia caused by several strokes since 1998. In addition, he suffers from diabetes, arthritis and has a pacemaker. “Operation Colombo ” involves the killing in 1975 of 119 dissidents whose bodies were found in Argentina . Mr. Pinochet has been charged in the deaths of 15 of those victims, stemming from lawsuits filed by relatives. Mr. Pinochet’s regime said the killings were the result of clashes among rival armed opposition groups. The current case is only one of a number of legal problems for Mr. Pinochet, who faces dozens of lawsuits stemming from human rights abuses during his regime, a time when 3,197 dissidents were slain or disappeared, according to a report by an independent commission appointed by the civilian government that succeeded him in 1990.
Mr. Pinochet also lost his immunity in a case involving alleged tax evasion related to multimillion-dollar bank accounts he owns abroad. An appeal is pending before the Supreme Court. Whether or not he ever sees the inside of a courtroom, the trial and even the punishment of Augusto Pinochet has already begun.

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