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Chilean justice acquits former president Frei Montalva convicted of death during Pinochet dictatorship

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Globe Live Media, Monday, January 25, 2021

A Chilean court on Monday acquitted six people convicted in the investigation of the death of former President Eduardo Frei Montalva during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, arguing that the evidence does not allow to establish that it was a homicide , as his family alleges.

The ruling of the Court of Appeals reverses the first instance decision of Judge Alejandro Madrid, who at the beginning of 2019 sentenced a retired military officer, a former intelligence agent, doctors and a driver of the ex-president to between three and 10 years in prison, who died in 1982 while recovering from a hernia operation at a clinic in Santiago.

According to the report, the ex-president (1964-1970), father of the former president Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, died at the age of 71 due to an infection induced by toxins that he received while recovering from surgery, which would have been administered by agents who worked for the Pinochet regime.


“The evidence gathered during the processing of the process (…) has not been able to demonstrate that the death of the former President of the Republic Eduardo Frei Montalva is attributable to any fraudulent or negligent action of one or more third parties, nor to any omission attributable “to his doctors, the court said.

“Eduardo Frei Montalva was not a victim of homicide, but rather died as a result of medical complications,” the ruling added.

At the time of his death, Frei Montalva stood as one of the main political leaders opposed to the Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990.


The judge’s investigation had also established that after the death, doctors from the Santa María clinic where the surgery was performed acted as accomplices and hid the results of an autopsy.

The decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ben Oakley
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