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Chile judge rejects request to prosecute former general for murder

Chilean judge Mario Carroza on Monday rejected a request by human rights lawyer Eduardo Contreras to prosecute former general Fernando Matthei for murder. Matthei oversaw the military facility where General Alberto Bachelet was tortured to death in 1973 after Bachelet refused to support the military coup lead by Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Contreras has attempted to bring charges against Matthei before and argued that new evidence has come to light which shows that Matthei was aware of Banchelet's death. However, Carroza ruled [BBC report] that there were insufficient grounds to prosecute. Contreras frequently represents families who were victimized during Pinochet's regime and has stated his intention to appeal Monday's decision. Both of the general's daughters, Evelyn Matthei and Michelle Bachelet, are opponents in the upcoming Chilean presidential election.

Chile has been urged to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for the killings and disappearances that took place during Pinochet's rule. In September a Chilean judge sentenced [JURIST report] the chief of police during Pinochet's reign to 15 years in prison for murdering an opposition activist. One month prior, a panel of human rights experts urged Chile [JURIST report] to ensure that those who have been convicted of enforced disappearances serve their sentences. In July 2012 Chilean authorities arrested and charged [JURIST report] two retired air force colonels for their roles in the 1974 death of an air force brigadier general and father of Chile's first female president. In December 2010 a French court convicted [JURIST report] 13 former Chilean officials for the disappearance of four French citizens during Pinochet's rule.

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