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Chile’s Pinochet Charged With Tax Evasion

The charges against Pinochet, who turns 90 on Friday, include creating and using false passports, making a false sworn statement and falsifying documents, according to a ruling by Judge Carlos Cerda, Bloomberg news reported.

The case may be the first to lead to a conviction against Pinochet for crimes related to his regime, human rights lawyers Carmen Hertz and Hugo Gutierrez said.

According to the ruling, Pinochet failed to pay taxes amounting to 1.28 billion pesos or $2.4 million between 1980 and 2004.

Pinochet’s defense team said the former general opened accounts abroad without reporting them to avoid “political persecution” in Chile and that he paid back most of the money earlier this year.

Pablo Rodriguez, one of his lawyers, said on Chilean National Television that Pinochet will appeal the ruling and that the former official’s health makes him unable to defend himself at trial.

Pinochet has been indicted twice in the past on human rights charges, but the courts blocked trials on health grounds.

Two other trial attempts were halted for the same reason at earlier stages and other lawsuits filed against the former dictator by relatives of victims of his regime are still pending, according to Reuters.

Pinochet’s wife and youngest son are out on bail after being arrested in August and charged as accomplices in tax evasion and using false passports to help move the money between accounts.

The overseas accounts came to light last year in a U.S. Senate investigation of possible money laundering at U.S. banks. Chile’s courts then investigated Pinochet’s finances and found more than 100 bank accounts in several countries under different names, Reuters reported.