Pinochet asks for forgiveness, wife says after anniversary Mass

Following a Mass to mark the 20th anniversary of a failed attempt on the life of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet, his wife said that the former dictator asks victims of his long, repressive regime to forgive him "if he was wrong".

The revelations come as the South American nation remembers the other "11 September" - the coup on this day in 1973 in which Pinochet toppled Marxist President Salvador Allende.

"He (Pinochet) has said many times that if he was wrong, he asks the people who fell to forgive him, especially from our side, but also for the adversaries," Lucia Hiriart told journalists, after attending Mass at a military church where hours earlier a bomb exploded, causing a minor fire that was quickly put out.

According to the International Herald Tribune, Pinochet has never publicly asked for forgiveness for the thousands of people killed for political reasons during his 1973-90 dictatorship. He has blamed what he calls "excesses" on subordinates.

Hiriart said the health of her 90-year-old husband, who has been diagnosed with mild dementia caused by several minor strokes, is "not good." He also suffers from diabetes and arthritis and has a pacemaker.

On 7 September 1986, a leftist guerrilla group attacked Pinochet's motorcade in the Andean foothills southeast of the capital of Santiago. Pinochet was not harmed, but five bodyguards were killed.

Pinochet's wife called the bodyguards "real heroes who died in the line of duty and saved the live of Chile's president."

Meanwhile, The Australian reports that Chile's Supreme Court cleared the way on the weekend for Pinochet to face charges of murder, torture and other rights abuses at Villa Grimaldi, one of the most infamous prisons run by his secret police.

"He's been stripped of immunity," a court source said after the decision by a Supreme Court panel in Santiago.

The ruling means Pinochet can be charged with human rights abuses related to the Villa Grimaldi prison, where thousands of his opponents - including current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet - were tortured between 1974 and 1977.

Wife says Pinochet asks to be forgiven for victims of his regime - 'if he was wrong' (International Herald Tribune, 7/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
General Augusto Pinochet (Wikipedia)

Chilean Bishops ask Pinochet cooperation in human rights lawsuits (CathNews, 12/3/00)
Pope's support for court being undermined says former Australian minister (19/4/99)

Pinochet ruling may lead to trial (Timesonline 10/9/06)
Violence erupts at march on eve of coup anniversary in Chile (10/9/06)

11 Sep 2006