July 26, 2005

Chilean judge on the hunt for new Pinochet accounts

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - A judge probing the bank
accounts of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on Tuesday
ordered a search for new suspected secret accounts in foreign

Judge Sergio Munoz ordered accounts to be investigated in
Colombia, Panama, Cayman Islands, Germany, the United States,
Bahamas, England and Spain, sources close to the process told

Munoz began to investigate Pinochet's finances last year
and in a recent court filing said he found that Pinochet and
his family hid up to $17 million in more than 100 foreign bank
accounts, often under false names.

A Chilean appeals court voted in June to strip the
ex-dictator of immunity from prosecution so he could face tax
fraud and other charges related to millions of dollars he held
in secret bank accounts.

"We believe that (bank) accounts sum up more than $17
million," Carmen Hertz, a human rights attorney, told
journalists on Tuesday.

Pinochet's defense lawyers have said that all of the money
in the accounts was legitimately earned.

Pinochet, 89, ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, a period when
more than 3,000 people died in political violence.