Chile judge questions Pinochet’s widow over embezzlement allegations

Lucia Hiriart accused of using public funds for not-for-profit womens group to fund dictators battle against extradition from Britain

A Chilean judge has questioned the 94-year-old widow of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet over allegations she embezzled public funds through a not-for-profit womens group she ran.

Luca Hiriart is accused of using money from the foundation to fund Pinochets battle against extradition from Britain in the 1990s.

Investigating judge Guillermo de la Barra visited Hiriart at her luxury home in the east of the capital, Santiago.

He left the building without commenting to reporters.

De la Barra said before the visit that he would question Hiriart over the embezzlement accusations.

She is suspected of embezzling the proceeds from selling off real estate ceded by the state to the Cema-Chile foundation, over which she presided until a few weeks ago.

Formerly a training institution for women, the foundation provided popular backing for the Pinochet regime, under which thousands of people were abducted or killed.

After the dictatorship, Cema transformed into a lucrative property business until the embezzlement charges caught up with Hiriart.

The government is suing to recover possession of 135 public properties it says were ceded to Cema, worth about $120m.

Chile marked the 10th anniversary of Pinochets death on Saturday.

He ruled the country with an iron fist from 1973 to 1990.

He was arrested in London in 1998, when British magistrates ordered him to be extradited to Spain, where judges wanted to try him for human rights violations.

However, the British government eventually ordered Pinochets release on health grounds.

He died in 2006 without ever being brought to justice for crimes committed by his regime.

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