No state funeral for Pinochet

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet won't be buried with state honours, but will receive a military funeral on Tuesday, say government officials.
Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet won't be buried with state honours, but will receive a military funeral on Tuesday, say government officials.
A supporter of Augusto Pinochet holds a sign saying 'thank you' at a rally outside a military college in Santiago where his casket is on view. ((Eric Foss/CBC))

A few hundred supporters lined the streets early Monday as his body was taken from the hospital where he died to a military college in the capital, Santiago. Some waved Chilean flags and sang the national anthem as a grey van carrying the body passed by.

The 91-year-old died Sunday of heart complications, a week after suffering a major heart attack.

His death sparked celebrations and clashes across Chile, as police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse anti-Pinochet demonstrators.

Police helicopters flew overhead as garbage bins were set on fire, buildings vandalized and shots fired at police. Officials said 24 officers were injured and a handful of demonstrators arrested.

Chile's government says at least 3,197 people were killed for political reasons during Pinochet's rule, but courts allowed the aging general to escape hundreds of criminal complaints as his health declined.

The disturbances largely subsided Monday, hours after Chilean officials called for calm.
Lucia Pinochet Hiriart stands alongside the coffin of her father, former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet in the military college on Monday. ((Roberto Candia/Associated Press))

"I would like to issue a call tonight for families to take responsibility for their youths, for their children, so that they don't go out to demonstrate and don't get involved in acts of violence," Interior Ministry undersecretary Felipe Harboe said in a statement.

Pinochet's son, Marco Antonio, has said that his father asked to be cremated to avoid desecration of his tomb by "people who always hated him."

Hugo Gutierrez, a human-rights lawyer involved in several lawsuits against Pinochet, lamented that "this criminal has departed without ever being sentenced for all the acts he was responsible for during his dictatorship."

Lorena Pizarro, president of an association representing relatives of the dictatorship's victims, noted that Pinochet had died "on Dec. 10, the international day of human rights."

Reaction trickles in

Reaction from Washington was muted following the Sunday death.

"Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile represented one of most difficult periods in that nation's history," said Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman. "Our thoughts today are with the victims of his reign and their families."
Gen. Augusto Pinochet is seen in a 1997 photo at left, and one taken on Sept. 21, 1973, 12 days after he seized power from Salvador Allende. ((Associated Press))

But the office of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who had been a close ally of Pinochet, said she was "greatly saddened" by his death.

The niece of Salvador Allende, the Chilean president who died during the 1973 coup led by Pinochet, said investigations into allegations of torture and human rights should continue.

"There cannot be any reconciliation while the legal process is still open," said Isabel Allende from Madrid. "We have to keep in mind that still, people have not been found and that families are still looking for their loved ones."

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Pinochet's death "should be a wake-up call for the authorities in Chile and governments everywhere, reminding them of the importance of speedy justice for human rights crimes, something Pinochet himself has now escaped."

With files from the Associated Press