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Chile judge rules former president's death a homicide, charges 6

[JURIST] A Chilean judge ruled [judgment, DOC; in Spanish] Monday that former president Eduardo Frei Montalva was assassinated, charging six in connection with his death. Judge Alejandro Madrid of the Chilean Court of Appeals found that Frei Montalva, who was president of Chile from 1964-1970, had been poisoned [La Nacion report, in Spanish] with mustard gas and other chemicals before his 1982 death. Three men were charged with murder, including a doctor, an intelligence agent, and Frei Montalva's driver. Two other doctors were charged with covering up the murder by allegedly falsifying autopsy reports, and a third was charged as an accomplice. The ruling comes less than week before the presidential election in which Frei Montalva's son, Eduardo Frei, is the candidate of the ruling center-left coalition. Eduardo Frei previously served as president from 1994-2000.

Frei Montalva was a vocal critic of late former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and the policies of his 1973-1990 military regime. An investigation into Frei Montalva's death was initiated in January 2007 when his body was exhumed and traces of mustard gas were found. Pinochet himself was under posthumous investigation [JURIST report] for possibly ordering Frei Montalva's death. Frei Montalva's family had long maintained that his death, which was originally ruled the result of a bacterial infection from treatment of a hernia, was a homicide.

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