06 October 2005

CHILE AT CORNER OF HUBER AND RIGGS

Judge Links Huber’s Death To Pinochet’s Arms Trafficking

(Oct. 6, 2005) Investigations into illegal weapons sales to Croatia and the mysterious death of Colonel Gerardo Huber have surged forward as new discoveries from the Riggs Bank case shed light on the motives behind decades of arms purchases, bribes, and murders.

Judge Claudio Pavez, lead investigator in the Huber case, asked for the appointment of a civilian judge to his military panel of investigators on Sept 27. New evidence discovered by Pavez has conclusively linked Huber’s 1992 death to the Riggs Bank case, an inquiry into former Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s private fortune, some of which is hidden in offshore bank accounts.

Col. Huber disappeared on January 29, 1992, two months after United Nations (UN) officials in Hungary seized a Chilean shipment of weapons bound for the Balkan state of Croatia. The country was then under a UN arms embargo for its part in the Balkan War.

Col. Huber was the Chief of Acquisitions for Chile’s army at the time and was expected to appear in court to testify about his role in the illegal arms deal. Shortly before he disappeared he implicated General Carlos Krumm, director of logistics for the army, as a participant in the weapons sale. His body was found floating in the Maipo River three weeks later.

Col. Huber’s death was ruled a suicide by military investigators after police autopsies claimed he died of injuries sustained by jumping off a bridge. New autopsies performed on his body in 1995 found that Huber was in fact shot in the head with a high-powered rifle and had his fingertips erased with acid. (ST, Sept. 26, 1995).

Judge Pavez has been interrogating everyone involved in the initial military investigation, as well as Huber’s former superiors, to try and determine the motive behind the murder.

Meanwhile, Judge Munoz, lead prosecutor in the Riggs bank case, has been busy with his investigations into the former dictator’s private fortune. The civilian inquiry turned up more than US$27 million that Gen. Pinochet received as bribes for facilitating arms deals between European arms manufacturers and Chile’s Army Weapons Factory (FAMAE).

It now appears that Gen. Pinochet and a small circle of Chilean military officials created a number of different offshore investment companies and bank accounts in the United States, Switzerland, and the Virgin Islands to launder illegal commissions they took for various arms deals.

Investigations into these bank accounts have revealed that Col. Huber was on the board of directors of three FAMAE subsidiaries: the Chemical Industrial Complex (CINQUISA), Institute of Investigations and Control (INDICSA), and Southern Territory Mapping and Editing (ECATERRA). All three of these branches shared a bank account in the New York branch of the Banco de Chile.

Judge Muñoz began interrogating all five of Pinochet’s children last week about any possible involvement they may have had in the fraud. Pinochet’s youngest son, Marco Antonio, was indicted in August for tax evasion and as an accomplice to his father’s financial crimes.

Col. Huber’s murder is not the only unsolved mystery connected to these investigations. General Luis Iracabal, former director of FAMAE, has been linked to one of Pinochet’s offshore investment companies in the Virgin Islands. His relationship with Pinochet is now thought to have been the cause of the murder of six-year-old Rodrigo Anfruns, a distant relative. Immediately after Anfruns disappeared in June of 1979, Iracabal went to Spain to set up an arms purchase center for Chile’s military regime.

Other unexplained and possibly related deaths connected to the arms investigation are the 1989 suicide of Colonel Alvarez Kladt, an official at FAMAE, and the 1992 murder of Eugenio Berrios, a chemist for the Chilean military.

SOURCE: EL MERCURIO, LA NACIÓN, DIARIO SIETE, LA TERCERA