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Chile lawyer wants charges over 1974 death of Bachelet's father

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An attorney asked Friday for murder charges to be filed against a retired general for the dictatorship-era death of the father of former president and opposition candidate Michelle Bachelet.

Attorney Eduardo Contreras says there is enough evidence to charge former Air Force general Fernando Matthei -- father of conservative presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei -- with the 1974 death of Alberto Bachelet.

The late Bachelet, also an Air Force general, was loyal to the socialist regime of then-president Salvador Allende. After the September 1973 military coup he was arrested, tortured, and died of a heart attack in captivity.

Contreras, who represents relatives of people killed during the 1973-1990 military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet, filed his request in the court of judge Mario Carroza, who is investigating the circumstances surrounding Bachelet's death.

Michelle Bachelet -- president from 2006 to 2010 -- said that her family did not ask for the investigation, but hopes to know the truth about her father's death.

In 1973 and 1974 Matthei was commandant of the military academy where General Bachelet was held and tortured.

Matthei was out of the country when Bachelet died, but the new evidence "makes it clear that he knew what was taking place at the Air Force academy, and even took the time to classify the prisoners that needed to be interrogated," Contreras told reporters.

The evidence emerged when Matthei testified to the judge and was confronted by testimony from officers who cared for Bachelet at the academy.

Matthei's daughter Evelyn Matthei, a former labor minister, faces leftist Michelle Bachelet in the November 17 presidential election.

Of the two women, Bachelet, 61, is far ahead in voter preference polls, while 59-year-old Matthei must contend with baggage from Chile's unpopular current conservative president, Sebastian Pinera.

Michelle Bachelet was also arrested and tortured during the dictatorship, and eventually fled the country and lived for years in exile.

"My conscience is clear and I'm at peace with Angela Jeria," general Bachelet's widow, Fernando Matthei said in a brief statement to CNN Chile.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130727/chile-lawyer-wants-charges-over-1974-death-bachelets-father