Chile Supreme Court upholds indictment, arrest of Pinochet

SANTIAGO, Chile - Chile's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the indictment and house arrest of former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet for nine kidnappings and one homicide allegedly committed during a long regime marked by human rights abuses.

The court's 3-2 vote cleared the way for Pinochet to be tried on the latest human rights abuse charges from his 1973-1990 rule.

"The sentence that has been appealed has been confirmed," court secretary Carlos Meneses said, referring to Pinochet's appeal.

A small group of Pinochet supporters were removed from the court by guards as they shouted slogans interrupting Meneses' announcement.

The ruling prompted applause and cheers from gathered relatives of alleged victims of Pinochet's regime.

Pinochet remained at his countryside residence west of Santiago, where he will remain under house arrest during the trial. He has been there recovering from a stroke he suffered in December.

Pinochet's legal team said it would ask the court for authorization to transfer Pinochet to the hospital if he suffered another stroke.

Presidential spokesman Francisco Vidal said the government does not comment on court rulings, "but we can say that this shows that we have developed a solid, stable democracy that can absorb this ruling with calm and tranquility."

In Washington, Amnesty International USA applauded the decision. "It gives hope to the families that ultimately there will be accountability for the tragedies they've endured," said Eric Olson, the group's advocacy director for the Americas.

Tuesday's ruling upheld only the legality of the historic Dec. 13 indictment and house arrest ordered by judge Juan Guzman. That December order was questioned by Pinochet's defense lawyers, who claim the 89-year-old is unfit to stand trial because of his deteriorated health.


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