General convicted in U.S. assassination leaves prison for house arrest
SANTIAGO, Chile -- (AP) -- The head of the secret police under
military regime left prison Wednesday after serving a seven-year sentence for a
1976 assassination in Washington.
Retired Gen. Manuel Contreras, 72, left the Punta de Peuco prison
just north of
Santiago under heavy security. He was placed under house arrest and transferred
to a home next to a military installation in the Andes foothills. He is expected to
go free soon.
He served his sentence for the assassination of Orlando Letelier,
a prominent foe
of the former military regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Letelier and an American aide, Ronni Moffit, were killed when
a bomb blew up the
car they were riding in in downtown Washington. Investigators traced the killing to
DINA, the feared secret police under former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
When civilian rule was restored here in 1990, the Letelier case
was reopened and
Contreras was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Although the sentence was completed Wednesday, Contreras was not
because he faces charges in seven other political killings attributed to DINA.
Because of his age and poor health, he was allowed to remain under house arrest
instead of prison.
The judge handling the cases against Contreras, Juan Guzman, ruled
retired general be freed during his trial if the Santiago Court of Appeals permits.