Judges briefed over main findings on Pinochet’s health


SANTIAGO, AFP

Chile’s ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet is suffering from “slight to moderate dementia,” according to one of the doctors who carried out intensive medical exams to assess the general’s fitness to stand trial on human rights abuse charges.

Luis Fornazzari, one of the physicians for the prosecution, said Monday, in a written analysis assessing Pinochet’s mental health, that the 85-year-old former strongman is suffering from “slight to moderate subcortical vascular dementia.”

“He remembers some things and has coordination and speech problems. He has some analysis capacity. He has attention deficit and is easily irritated,” Fornazzari explains in an interview published on the “El Mostrador” Web site.

A local radio station, Radio Biobio, which claims to have had access to the conclusions produced by the medical team appointed at the orders of Judge Juan Guzman Tapia, who is investigating 206 human rights suits filed against Pinochet, also said that Pinochet had “slight to moderate dementia prognosis.”

“Pinochet has lost some of his functions, but his memory is totally intact, he only has minor difficulties and, according to prosecutors, is completely able” to be interrogated by Guzman on January 23, the radio said.

The six doctors assessing whether Pinochet is fit to stand trial on human rights abuse charges gave their opinions to Guzman Monday following three days of intensive tests last week on the ailing retired general, according to prosecution lawyer Eduardo Contreras.

A formal written report is expected to be ready by Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.

Under Chilean law, if medical tests uncover signs of dementia or insanity, Pinochet would be deemed free from responsibility for any crimes.

If Judge Guzman establishes that Pinochet is well enough, he will then interrogate the general on Tuesday, January 23, which has already been postponed three times.

Pinochet will be asked about some 75 summary executions, carried out by a military squad known as the “Caravan of Death,” in October 1973, a month after the coup that brought Pinochet to power.

Guzman is handling lawsuits filed against Pinochet by the relatives of people tortured, disappeared or murdered during the 1973-1990 dictatorship. The total suits against Pinochet rose to 206 on Monday.