October 16, 2001

Argentine judge probes Chile ex-police in bomb case

                 SANTIAGO, Chile, Oct 16 (Reuters) -- An Argentine judge on Tuesday
                 questioned two members of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet's secret
                 police about a high-profile 1974 car bomb murder in Buenos Aires.

                 Judge Maria Servini told journalists she had quizzed Cristof Willique and Mariana
                 Callejas, both ex-agents of Pinochet's feared DINA secret police, about the killing
                 of former Chilean military chief Carlos Prats and his wife.

                 Servini, who is investigating the case for an Argentine court, traveled to the Chilean
                 capital to question the pair.

                 Prats was Pinochet's predecessor as armed forces head in Chile and opposed the
                 1973 coup that brought Pinochet, now 85, to power. He went into exile after the
                 coup and died when a bomb planted under his car exploded in a Buenos Aires

                 Willique cooperated with judge Servini, while Callejas chose not to respond to the
                 questions, a right authorized by both Chilean and Argentine law, Servini told
                 journalists afterwards.

                 "I will study in Argentina all the declarations made and then decide if further legal
                 proceedings will be brought against both or just one," the judge said.

                 Chile's supreme court last month rejected a request by Servini to quiz Pinochet
                 himself about his possible links with the murder. His secret police force has since
                 been disbanded.

                 In July this year, Chile's Appeals Court ruled that the ex-general was mentally unfit
                 to face trial in a test case in which he was charged with covering up 75 murders
                 and abductions by an army death squad in Chile in 1973.

                 Legal experts at the time said that ruling means Pinochet, who suffers from
                 dementia, is now unlikely ever to face trial for rights abuses committed during his
                 17 years in power.

                  Copyright 2001 Reuters.