Chile Seizes 34 Properties Given to Foundation of Pinochet’s Widow

SANTIAGO – A special judge has ordered to seize 34 properties of the CEMA Chile Foundation, earlier presided over by the widow of late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Lucia Hiriart, 94, is accused of using money from the foundation to fund Pinochet’s battle against extradition from Britain in the 1990s. She is suspected of embezzling the proceeds from selling off real estate ceded by the state to the CEMA Chile foundation, over which she presided until a few weeks ago.

Judge Guillermo de La Barra, who visited Mrs. Pinochet at her luxury home in the east of Santiago last year, has now extended the file against her as the surveys show how dozens of properties were used for profit by the not-for-profit women’s group.

“Billions of pesos have been stolen from the state and citizens,” said Nivia Palma, Minister of National Property, in a statement.

“They are real estate that cannot be used for other noble purposes,” she added.

Lucia Hiriart was the president for life of CEMA Chile, proclaimed during Pinochet’s dictatorship, until last year.

Pinochet ruled the country from 1973 to 1990. He was arrested in London in 1998, when British magistrates ordered him to be extradited to Spain, where judges wanted to try him for human rights violations. However, the British government eventually ordered Pinochet’s release on health grounds.

He died in 2006 without ever being brought to justice for crimes committed by his regime.