Pinochet family freed amid probe

Former Chilean leader's widow and children facing embezzlement charges.

    Pinochet's freed children went straight to hospital, where their mother was being treated [AFP]

    The charges stem from the general's multimillion dollar bank accounts in the United States and elsewhere.


    Pinochet himself was under indictment in the case when he died in December at age 91.


    Pinochet and his associates have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the bank accounts, saying the funds were legitimate savings and investments, plus donations Pinochet received.


    'Political persecution'


    Judge Juan Fuentes said a three member-panel unanimously agreed to allow 23 relatives and associates of the former dictator to be freed and set bail ranging from $200 to $590.


    In addition to Pinochet's relatives, the indicted included 17 former aides, with six retired army generals among them.


    Pinochet died last December while
    under house arrest

    Pinochet's son, also named Augusto, repeated earlier statements suggesting the case against the family is politically motivated.


    Leaving prison, he challenged Chileans to "judge for yourselves".


    "This is my personal reasoning: This country should think about what's going on," he said.


    The family lawyer, Pablo Rodriguez, called the legal accusations "unprecedented, open political persecution".


    The case exposed the divisions Pinochet still inspires among Chileans.


    Fights between supporters and foes of Pinochet broke out repeatedly in front of the different facilities where the indicted were being held.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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