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Pinochet released on bail while recovering from heart attack

[JURIST] A court in Santiago granted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archive] bail from house arrest Monday as he remained hospitalized following a severe heart attack a day earlier. One of Pinochet's doctors, describing his condition today as "life-threatening" but stable, said he was awake and communicative after an emergency angioplasty was performed [JURIST news archive] to clear the artery blockage that led to the heart attack. If Pinochet continues to recuperate, the doctor said, he will stay in the hospital for a week or more.

Last week, a judge ordered that Pinochet be placed under house arrest [JURIST report] in connection with the executions of two of former President Salvador Allende's bodyguards during the so-called Caravan of Death [BBC backgrounder] that followed the coup in which Pinochet seized power. Pinochet, 91, publicly assumed full political responsibility [JURIST report] last month for the actions of his military regime, which ruled from 1973 to 1990. Although he enjoys general immunity from prosecution under the 1980 Chilean Constitution [text], Pinochet has slowly been stripped of this immunity [BBC report] in light of charges brought against him. Pinochet's previous health problems, including mild dementia, strokes and arthritis, have made his fitness to stand trial questionable [JURIST report]. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage. The Santiago Times has local coverage.

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