December 10th, 2006
Chile's Gen Pinochet dies at 91 info
Chile's Gen Pinochet dies at 91 |
Chile's former military leader Augusto Pinochet has died at the age of 91.
The general entered a Santiago hospital a week ago after a heart attack. He was thought to be recovering when his condition suddenly worsened on Sunday.
Gen Pinochet seized power in a coup against an elected government in 1973. More than 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" over the next 17 years.
He was accused of dozens of human rights violations and tax evasion but never faced trial due to poor health.
The hospital said Gen Pinochet passed away at 1415 local (1715GMT).
"He died surrounded by his family," the hospital's Dr Juan Ignacio Vergara told reporters.
More details would be made available later, he said.
After suffering his heart attack, he underwent angioplasty surgery to unblock an artery, and received the last rites from a Catholic priest.
But in the days afterwards his condition had been thought to be improving.
Chilean newspaper La Tercera de la Hora Online says dozens of supporters who had been keeping a vigil outside the military hospital are weeping and praying following the general's death.
It is expected they will be joined by other supporters as news of his death spreads.
'Loved by many'
Opponents have expressed anger that Gen Pinochet died without justice being done over the charges that had been brought.
Despite his human rights record, the general had staunch supporters
"What saddens me is that this criminal has died without having been sentenced and I believe the responsibility the state bears in this has to be considered", human rights lawyer Hugo Gutierrez told La Tercera Online.
Despite his human rights record, many Chileans loved him and said he saved the country from Marxism.
But even many loyal supporters abandoned him after it became clear in 2004 that he had stolen about $27m in secret offshore bank accounts that were under investigation at the time of his death, the BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires says.
In June 1973, Gen Pinochet led the armed forces in a dramatic coup against the democratically elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende.
The violence of the uprising and the oppression that followed shook the world. He went on to become one of South America's best-known military rulers of the 1970s and 80s.
Earlier in November, Gen Pinochet was placed under house arrest over the abduction of two people in 1973.
The charges - the latest in a series - related to the Caravan of Death, a military operation to remove opponents of his rule.
In a statement read by his wife on his 91st birthday, Gen Pinochet said he accepted "political responsibility" for acts committed during his rule.
"Today, close to the end of my days, I want to make clear that I hold no rancour towards anybody, that I love my country above all else," his statement said.
Per Qualitatem Optimum Robur