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Author`s name Ольга Савка

Chile court studies blames against Pinochet made by his former chief of spies

Retired Gen. Manuel Contreras accused the former dictator of being responsible for the assassination of more than 500 opponents

A Chilean court began studying on Monday blames filed against former dictator Augusto Pinochet for his responsibility in the assassination of more than 500 opponents, including his predecessor at the head of the army Carlos Prats, killed in Buenos Aires in 1974, and country's former Foreign Minister Orlando Leterier, murdered in Washington in 1976. The well documented accusation was submitted by the head of the secret police under Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Retired Gen. Manuel  Contreras, who is currently serving a 15-year prison term for the assassination of a dissident.

In the demand, Contreras disclosed the fate of more than 500 opponents killed by the Chilean secret police, DINA, who disappeared after being arrested by the force he controlled. According to the former chief of spies, Pinochet himself ordered the assassination of these persons during the first years of his bloody conservative rule.

The report confirmed that many of the victims were thrown into the sea after being killed – a disclosure that had already been made last year by a presidential investigative commission, said Juan Carlos Manns, Contrera's lawyer. Manns said his imprisoned client put the responsibility for the abuses on Pinochet and the other military commanders. In the document, Contreras said he was writing to counter "the permanent, ominous silence maintained by my superior," referring to Pinochet.

The document also includes comments about the assassination of Prats and Leterier. According to the former head of the DINA, those killings were urged personally by Pinochet, acting in cooperation with the CIA, directly. Contreras has always said that the DINA did not take part in the operations.

According to Contreras, the former CIA agent Michael Townley, who has already confessed his participation in the crimes, acted under direct instruction from his superiors in Washington and Pinochet. However, courts in Argentina, Chile and USA, have probed DINA's connection. But Contreras insists that the former deputy director of the CIA, Vernon Walters, introduced Townley to Pinochet without participation of his men.

Contreras, his lawyer said, "assumes the responsibility he may have as commander of the security service, but at the same time exempts from responsibility a number of other military officers who were assigned to carry on duties ordered by the military junta" led by Pinochet. Pinochet has refused to take responsibility for the abuses, saying they were the work of subordinates.

According to a report by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet, 3,190 people were killed for political reasons during his 17-year rule.

On the photo: Former head of the Chilean secret services, Gen. Manuel Contreras