Seize Pinochet’s assets, orders Chile’s top court

SANTIAGO – Chile’s Supreme Court has ordered the seizure of $1.6 million of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet’s assets in a corruption scandal.

Three retired military officers were also sentenced to four years of prison for “misappropriation of public funds,” the judiciary said in its ruling on Friday.

The decision settles a scandal known as the Riggs Bank case that came to light in 2004, two years before Pinochet died, with the revelation of around 100 bank accounts opened in the name of Pinochet and family members in the United States-based and now-defunct Riggs Bank and other financial institutions outside of Chile.

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“His spouse and heirs cannot consider themselves owners in good faith … of the illicit origin of the assets,” according to the ruling as the assets would be returned to the Chilean state.

In 2017, an appeals court overturned the seizure of Pinochet’s assets. The court ruled that close to $5 million seized in 2004 at the case’s opening should be restored to his relatives.

Friday’s ruling partly invalidates that decision, but lets the Pinochet family keep most of the assets.

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According to official statistics, around 3,200 people were killed or disappeared and 38,000 tortured during general Pinochet’s bloody 17-year dictatorship. Despite being indicted and arrested several times for various crimes and murders, Pinochet died of a heart-attack at age 91 in 2006 without ever having been convicted.