September 6, 1998

Chile's Pinochet says he had 'nothing to do' with rights abuses

                  SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Gen.
                  Augusto Pinochet was quoted Sunday
                  as saying he had "nothing to do" with
                  human rights abuses during his military

                  In an interview with the Santiago daily El Mercurio, Pinochet claimed he has
                  no information on the whereabouts of 1,102 dissidents who have not been
                  located since they were detained by his security services.

                  He also said calling him responsible for human rights abuses "is the most
                  unjust accusation ever done against a man."

                  "I had nothing to do with that," he said. "When I heard of some criminal act,
                  I relayed the case to the courts."

                  Pinochet, who seized power in a bloody coup in 1973 and ruled until 1990,
                  was accused of widescale human rights abuses during his rule.

                  More than 3,100 people were killed for political reasons during his 17 years
                  in power, and 1,102 people are still missing, according to a months-long
                  investigation by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet. Thousands
                  more were tortured and forced into exile.

                 'Mistakes were made'

                  Pinochet has often denied the allegations, although he has admitted in the
                  past that "mistakes were made by both sides," referring to his government
                  and the groups that resorted to violence to fight it.

                  In the newspaper interview published Sunday, Pinochet said he could not
                  speak for his subordinates.

                  "That's a different thing," he said. "I do not know, that was a problem that
                  was beyond my reach. That's what people do not understand."

                  The former ruler has retained substantial political and military clout by
                  becoming a senator for life, a guarantee he established for himself in the
                  constitution written by his regime.

                     Copyright 1998   The Associated Press.