Top court of Chile to decide Monday whether Pinochet can face charges related to killings

The Supreme Court will decide Monday whether it will uphold its earlier decision to strip former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet of his presidential immunity to try him in a case related to killings of 119 dissidents.

The top court held a three-hour-long hearing Wednesday in which it heard from three prosecutors and Pincohet's lawyer before announcing that a vote will take place Monday. Pinochet, 89, who ruled from 1973 to 1990, was not required to appear.

The case stems from the 1975 killings in Argentina of 119 dissidents, but it's not yet clear what specific charges Pinochet could face.

The Pinochet regime at the time confirmed the deaths but said they where the result of clashes among rival armed opposition groups. Officials backed their claims by presenting reports in two foreign magazines - Lea of Argentina and O Dia of Brazil. But both magazines disappeared after publishing those single issues.

The Santiago Court of Appeals had already ordered Pinochet's immunity stripped in the case, but that ruling was appealed by Pinochet's defense before the Supreme Court.

The stripping of the immunity Pinochet enjoys as former president was first requested by judge Juan Guzman, who has since retired, but his successor, Victor Montiglio, has pursued it.

Should the top court uphold the earlier ruling, Montiglio would be free to try Pinochet.

Pinochet has lost his immunity four times before, three in human rights cases, one for tax evasion related to multi-million dollar secret bank accounts he owned overseas, but his failing health has saved him from. Under the law, his immunity must be stripped in each case before going to trial, reported AP.

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