Latin America & Caribbean

Chile ex-leader's father 'died of torture' after coup

Michelle Bachelet in 2006
Image caption Michelle Bachelet went on to become President of Chile

The father of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet probably died as a result of torture after the 1973 military coup, a judge has said.

Judge Mario Carroza said investigators had found that Gen Alberto Bachelet died of heart problems aggravated by torture sessions after his arrest.

Gen Bachelet was loyal to President Salvador Allende, who was deposed in the coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet.

Ms Bachelet, who was tortured herself, was Chile's president in 2006-2010.

Treason sentence

Judge Carroza was assigned to review a complaint brought by relatives of the victims of military rule alleging that Gen Bachelet had been tortured to death.

He said a new forensic study concluded that "all the interrogations to which Gen Bachelet was submitted damaged his heart and was the likely cause of death".

Soon after the coup on 11 September 1973, the 51-year-old general was taken to a military academy, where he was questioned by members of the armed force he had previously led.

He died on 12 March 1974 while serving a sentence for treason in the capital Santiago.

Image caption The presidential palace of La Moneda was bombed during the 1973 military coup

His wife, Angela Jeria, and his daughter Michelle were also held and tortured before fleeing to Australia.

Michelle Bachelet now heads the UN women's agency.

Judge Carroza has also been in charge of an investigating into the death of Mr Allende.

A team of international experts concluded that Chile's first democratically elected Socialist president killed himself during the coup.

Mr Allende's family had always accepted he had committed suicide, but some of his supporters suspected he had been killed by soldiers.

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