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Old December 11th, 2006, 09:24 PM  
redcar
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Default Pinochet supporters pay respects

Hundreds of supporters of Chile's former military leader, Augusto Pinochet, have begun filing past his coffin in the capital, Santiago.

Gen Pinochet, who ruled for 17 years, died on Sunday aged 91. He was accused of dozens of human rights abuses.
His death sparked emotional scenes and clashes. Opponents of the former leader celebrated, while supporters mourned outside the hospital where he died.
A judge said his death should not end probes into crimes committed under him.
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who issued the arrest warrant that led to Gen Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998, said it was unfortunate that he was never brought to trial.



But Judge Garzon said some of his victims had received compensation and these efforts should continue.
Gen Pinochet took power in a coup in 1973. More than 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" during his rule.
The former leader was accused of fraud as well as human rights abuses, but poor health meant he never faced trial.
He had been in hospital since suffering a heart attack on 3 December.
'Free country'
Early on Monday, a coffin containing his body was transferred to Santiago's Military Academy.
Hundreds of supporters queued up to file past his glass-topped coffin and pay their respects.


"We've come in recognition of the great thing he did in saving us from the Marxist-Leninist cancer," supporter Octavio Chau told Reuters news agency.
"It's thanks to that that we're a free country."
No state funeral or national mourning has been authorised. Gen Pinochet will be buried with military honours on Tuesday.
Divisions
On Sunday, both sworn opponents and loyal supporters of Gen Pinochet took to the streets after hearing of his death.
There was a carnival atmosphere in the centre of Santiago, as opponents celebrated, although clashes broke out when about 1,000 people tried to head towards the presidential palace.

Opponents' celebrations turn sour in Santiago




At the city's military hospital, thousands of other people gathered to mourn Gen Pinochet.
Deputy Interior Minister Felipe Harboe appealed for calm. "We do not want people to be affected today by facts of the past," he said.
'No justice'
Opponents have expressed anger that Gen Pinochet died without justice being done regarding the charges against him.
"What saddens me is that this criminal has died without having been sentenced and I believe the responsibility the state bears in this has to be considered," human rights lawyer Hugo Gutierrez told the Chilean newspaper La Tercera Online.

Gen Pinochet celebrated his 91st birthday last month





In September 1973, Gen Pinochet led the armed forces in a dramatic coup against the democratically-elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende.
The violence of the uprising and the oppression that followed shook the world.
Earlier in November, Gen Pinochet was placed under house arrest over the abduction of two people in 1973.
The charges - the latest in a series - related to the Caravan of Death, a military operation to remove opponents of his rule. But despite his human rights record, many Chileans revered Gen Pinochet, believing he saved the country from Marxism and put Chile onto a path of strong economic growth.

~BBC News Service

~ A L E X ~

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