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Pinochet judge removed from tax evasion case for alleged bias

[JURIST] The Santiago Court of Appeals [Chilean judiciary website, in Spanish] has temporarily removed Judge Carlos Cerda from presiding over a probe into the finances of former Chile dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], after hearing arguments that Cerda has a "personal bias" against Pinochet. Pinochet's lawyer had argued that Cerda demonstrated his bias towards Pinochet by voting against Pinochet in a previous tax evasion case [JURIST report]. Tuesday's decision to remove Cerda effectively halts the trial temporarily because a replacement judge will have to spend a significant amount of time reviewing prior court documents accumulated by Cerda. The Santiago court may choose to reinstate Cerda if it decides the bias accusations are not true. While Pinochet and his family claim that Pinochet's estimated $28 million came from savings, investments and donations, prosecutors argue that Pinochet took bribes from arms sales.

In the previous tax evasion case [JURIST report], Cerda issued arrest warrants for Pinochet, his wife, four of his children, daughter-in-law, former attorney and secretary following the release of indictments that all filed false tax returns [JURIST report]. Pinochet also faces multiple human rights charges [JURIST report] stemming from his 1973-1990 rule. AP has more.

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