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Chile Judge Opens Military Probe

February 25, 2001

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ The judge who indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is investigating allegations that a high-ranking military official committed human rights abuses during the Pinochet era, lawyers said Saturday.

Judge Juan Guzman’s investigation of Gen. Hernan Gabrielli, the air force chief of staff, marks the first time an officer currently serving in Chile’s armed forces has come under judicial scrutiny for Pinochet-era actions.

The investigation is based on allegations by political prisoners who accuse Gabrielli of torturing leftists when he served as a lieutenant in 1973, shortly after Pinochet came to power in a bloody coup.

He has denied the accusations and has sued his accusers for libel and slander.

The accusations center around dissident Eugenio Ruiz-Tagle, one of 75 people killed by a military group in the ``Caravan of Death,″ one of the most notorious cases of human rights abuses during Pinochet’s 1973-90 dictatorship.

Those killings prompted Pinochet’s indictment and house arrest on homicide and kidnapping charges. He is under house arrest and awaiting a court ruling on whether he is fit to stand trial.

According to a report by the government that succeeded Pinochet, at least 3,200 people were killed for political reasons and another 1,197 went missing during his dictatorship.

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