General Pinochet, 91, dies awaiting trial for murder
Thomas Catan in Madrid and Nathan Crooks in SantiagoAugusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator who ruled his country with an iron fist from 1973 to 1990, died last night aged 91.
General Pinochet had been taken to hospital a week ago after suffering a heart attack. He underwent an angioplasty to open up a clogged artery and had been recovering.
Doctors said that his condition took a sharp turn for the worse yesterday and he died in the early afternoon.
Outside the hospital supporters chanted Long live Pinochet!, while others shouted insults at them. Last night, opponents of his rule clashed with police outside the presidential palace. The violence erupted when officers tried to disperse a crowd of about 1,000 people celebrating Pinochets death, who were marching down the capitals main avenue.
A Chilean government spokesman said that General Pinochet would not have a state funeral but would be buried with military honours tomorrow.
The former dictators death ended a tumultuous chapter in the history of the South American country that began with his overthrow of Salvador Allendes democratically elected Government in 1973.
General Pinochets fierce anti-communism, free-market economics and support for Britain during the Falklands war made him one of Margaret Thatchers favourite leaders and he was received with honours on his visits to London.
That changed in 1998, when the new Labour Government acted on an unusual international arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge. Although he avoided being sent to Spain to face trial on charges of genocide, his arrest marked a watershed in Chile, showing Chileans for the first time that he was not invulnerable. The general spent the final years of his life arguing that he was too ill to face trial. He was under house arrest at the time of his heart attack on December 3, accused of the murder of two of Mr Allendes bodyguards.
General Pinochet issued a statement on his 91st birthday last month in which he attempted to heal the wounds caused by his brutal rule. He said that he accepted political responsibility for acts committed during his rule.
Last night Baroness Thatcher was said to be greatly saddened by his death.