31 May 2006

BERRIÓS CASE: JUDGE INVESTIGATES PINOCHET’S SON

(May 31, 2006) The investigation into the murder of Eugenio Berríos has uncovered links between Augusto Pinochet Hiriart, the eldest son of the former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and various military organizations in Chile and Uruguay suspected of taking part in the 1993 homicide of the former secret police chemist.

Investigative Judge Alejandro Madrid released previously undisclosed information relating to the 1991 “Pinocheques” incident that caused Pinochet Jr. to flee Chile rather than testify why the Commander in Chief – his father Gen. Pinochet – paid him $971,000,000 pesos (approximately US$1.8 million) to act as the intermediary between the Chilean military and a then bankrupt weapons factory.

The case was closed after government administrators pressured the State Defense Council (CDE) to dismiss the charges saying that the case threatened the democratic stability of the government. At the time Chile was beginning the transition to democracy after 17 years of military dictatorship.

According to Pinochet Jr.’s testimony, he first tried to go to Argentina in late 1991 on an Air Force mail flight under a false name. He was forced to wait overnight when he learned from Gustavo González, an officer with Chile’s Investigations Police, that the owner of the I.D. he was going to use was wanted in Chile.

Pinochet Jr. left the next day for Buenos Aires under his real name accompanied by the then Chief of the Special Units of the Directorate of Army Intelligence (DINE) Arturo Silva Valdés. Once in Buenos Aires Pinochet Jr. traveled to Brazil and Spain using fake documents made for him by an Argentinean secret service agent named Carlos Narea González.

Judge Madrid is interested in the story because of its similarities to the Eugenio Berriós case. Berriós was also wanted for questioning in 1991 for his role in several high profile murder cases. He was snuck out of the country by the army and later murdered in Uruguay in 1993 (ST, May 17).

It now appears that in April 1993 Pinochet Jr. was in contact with Col. Tomás Casella, one of the three Uruguayan military officials extradited to Chile who is accused of murdering Berríos. Autopsies of Berríos’ body show that he was shot sometime between April and June of 1993.

Government officials are now investigating what links González has to the Pinochet family due to the inside information he provided in 1991 as well as his signature on the 2001 police report detailing the entries and exits of both Pinochet Jr. and his younger brother Marco Antonio that was requested by Judge Madrid in the Berríos case.

González is currently the Public Relations spokesman for the Circle of Retired Police Officers.

SOURCE: LA NACIÓN