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Pinochet placed under house arrest on prison abuse charges

[JURIST] A federal judge in Chile [JURIST news archive] placed former dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] under house arrest Monday, marking the first time Pinochet has been detained on torture charges. Federal Judge Alejandro Solis ordered Pinochet's arrest [JURIST report] on Friday in connection with 36 cases of kidnapping, 23 cases of torture and a single case of homicide at the Villa Grimaldi prison [Wikipedia backgrounder], an infamous political detention center operated by Pinochet's secret police between 1974 and 1977. During an initial meeting with Solis earlier this month, Pinochet denied knowledge of crimes at Villa Grimaldi [JURIST report].

The Supreme Court of Chile [official website, in Spanish] stripped Pinochet of his sovereign immunity for the Villa Grimaldi charges in September, upholding a January 2006 decision [JURIST report] of an appeals court. Earlier this month, Pinochet lost immunity in another case [JURIST report] involving the 1976 assassination of rival politician Orlando Letelier [Wikipedia profile]. Pinochet, who is 90, also faces charges of tax evasion [JURIST report] stemming from an investigation into secret offshore back accounts set up under false names. Reuters has more. From Santiago, La Nacion has local coverage, in Spanish.

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