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Chile judge won't prosecute former general in death of Bachelet's father

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Chilean judge has opted not to prosecute the father of presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei in the death of the father of her rival, former president Michelle Bachelet.

The women, who will face off in a November 17 election, are the daughters of two Air Force generals who found themselves on opposing sides after Augusto Pinochet's 1973 military coup.

The late Alberto Bachelet was loyal to the socialist regime of then-president Salvador Allende. After the coup he was arrested, tortured, and died of a heart attack in captivity.

General Fernando Matthei was part of Pinochet's military dictatorship, serving as head of the country's air force.

"There are no grounds for the requested prosecution," Judge Mario Carroza said in response to a request filed last month by attorney Eduardo Contreras to prosecute Matthei.

"The new evidence presented in the request, in the court's opinion, is not sufficient to change what has already been decided," said Carroza, who had previously investigated the death of Bachelet.

The judge had already rejected prosecution of Matthei in September 2012.

In 1973 and 1974, Matthei was commander of the military academy where Bachelet's father was held and tortured.

Contreras had said that even though Matthei was out of the country when Bachelet died, 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."

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

Retired Air Force colonels Ramon Caceres and Edgar Ceballos were arrested and charged for "the crime and torture leading to death," according to Carroza.

Conservative presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei, a former labor minister, has said that her father and general Bachelet "were friends."

Leftist Michelle Bachelet, who was Chile's president from 2006 to 2010, was also arrested and tortured during the Pinochet dictatorship, and eventually fled the country and lived for years in exile.

She has said her family never requested the investigation, but said she hoped to learn the truth about the death of her father.

Angela Jeria, the wife of general Bachelet, has said that Matthei was not at the War Academy when her husband died.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130805/chile-judge-wont-prosecute-former-general-death-bachelets-father