Chilean officials to open Pinochet will | News | DW | 25.04.2012
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Chilean officials to open Pinochet will

A court in Chile has ordered that the last will and testament of late dictator Augusto Pinochet be opened as part of a legal probe into the origin and extent of his fortune.

Chilean officials were set to open ex-military general Pinochet's will on Wednesday as part of an investigation to determine the exact amount of his fortune.

The opening has been requested by the Defense Council of the State, which is seeking to recover unpaid taxes and provide compensation for victims of a crackdown he led on dissidents.

An estimated 3,000 people were killed or went missing during the Pinochet dictatorship between 1973 and 1990.

The bulk of the fortune is thought to be invested in bank accounts overseas, with the rest in property and money in Chile.

The will is in the custody of a lawyer in the capital, Santiago, who will be accompanied by only two other witnesses when it is opened. Although the details of the will are to be kept private for the time being, a government representative will be present to recover any money that belongs to the state.

Complaint of persecution

Pinochet's family has said the opening of the will amounts to nothing more than “political persecution,” by the left. It has accused authorities of weakness in allowing the probe to continue.

"We, the children, are not interested in opening something that has been seized,” said his eldest daughter Lucia Pinochet.

Pinochet died under house arrest, aged 91, while facing charges of siphoning off government funds for his own personal gain during the 17-year dictatorship. He was never sentenced in relation to human rights violations.

Pinochet seized power in a coup on September 11, 1973, against then-socialist president Salvador Allende.

An academic study ordered by Chile's Supreme Court determined years ago that the dictator had gathered some $21 million in personal wealth before his death in 2006. It found that only $3 million of that could be accounted for from his military salary.

rc/ccp (AP, AFP)