Former Chilean dictator Pinochet passes away | india | Hindustan Times
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Former Chilean dictator Pinochet passes away

Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973-1990 and spent his old age fighting human rights, fraud and corruption charges, died on Sunday.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 04:03 IST

Ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973-1990 and spent his old age fighting human rights, fraud and corruption charges, died on Sunday, a week after suffering a heart attack, a military doctor said.

"He died surrounded by his family," Dr Juan Ignacio Vergara told reporters outside the hospital.

"Later this afternoon, we will give more details," he said.

Pinochet, 91, who was diabetic and had been in frail health for years, underwent bypass surgery after the December 3 heart attack. He was given Roman Catholic last rites and his son said the surgery had brought him back from the brink of death.

Pinochet was under house arrest at the time of his recent heart attack, accused in the deaths of two bodyguards of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, who he ousted in a coup.

The charges were the latest in a series against Pinochet, who issued a statement last month on his 91st birthday suggesting he realized his death could be near.

"Today, close to the end of my days, I want to make clear that I hold no rancor toward anybody, that I love my country above all else," he said in a statement read by his wife on his 91st birthday last month.

In the statement, he accepted "political responsibility" for acts committed during his rule.

Pinochet grabbed power in a coup and went on to become the best known of the South American dictators of the 1970s and 1980s. Under his regime more than 3,000 people died in political violence, many at the hands of repressive secret police.

He was accused of dozens of human rights violations but a lengthy effort to bring him to trial in Chile failed as his defense lawyers successfully argued that he was too ill to face charges.

Despite Pinochet's human rights record, many Chileans loved him and said he saved Chile from Marxism.

But even many loyal supporters abandoned him after it came out in 2004 that he had stashed some 27 million dollar in secret off-shore bank accounts that were under investigation at the time of his death.