A Spanish judge has ordered the widow of Augusto Pinochet, his former lawyer and two bankers to post a $77 million (euro51 million) bond while he probes allegations they laundered money for the late Chilean dictator while he was in power, according to a court document released Monday.
The order came from Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is best known for having Pinochet arrested in London in 1998 and trying, ultimately in vain, to put him on trial in Spain on terrorism, torture and other charges.
The money probe stems from that original case and was instigated at the request of a human rights foundation that works to pay compensation to victims of the Pinochet regime.
Garzon wrote that the bond is to "cover whatever financial liabilities might arise" in his probe of the widow, Maria Lucia Hiriart Rodriguez, and the other three suspects.
The former lawyer is named in the five-page court order as Oscar Custodio Aitken Lavanchy.
The bankers, who work for Banco de Chile, are named as Pablo Granifo Lavin and Hernan Donoso Lira. The bank itself and two of its subsidiaries are named as suspected accomplices.
Garzon said the four suspects, along with Banco de Chile, have 10 days to pay the bond and asked Chilean authorities to notify them of the order.
If they fail to pay, Garzon said he will order the seizure of the amount of the bond, plus an extra third of it, from bank accounts belonging to them. That total would be about $103 million. He did not say where the accounts are held.
Judge Manuel Valderrama, who is also investigating Pinochet's finances in Chile, said he awaited a final audit on the clan's assets, adding that while evidence of embezzlement of funds by military officials existed, nothing as yet was linked to Hiriart.
Rodrigo Garcia Pinochet, the dictator's grandson, said the clan was innocent and placed all its trust in Chile's judicial system.
Garzon went after Pinochet in 1998 under a Spanish legal doctrine that allowed particularly grave crimes to be prosecuted in this country even if they are alleged to have been committed abroad and had no tie to Spain. Britain ultimately declined to extradite Pinochet, saying he was ill.
Pinochet died in Chile in 2006 without having stood trial for abuses during his 1973-90 dictatorship.
Spain trimmed its so-called universal jurisdiction law in October of this year after getting angry complaints from other countries that were being investigated, such as China and Israel. Now, such probes can be carried out only if there is a clear link to Spain.
But that reform is not retroactive. The money-laundering probe began in 2007 as an extension of the original 1998 case, so the investigation has remained in effect.
The amount of the bond sought by Garzon _ $77,348,374 _ is equivalent to the amount of state money allegedly pilfered and laundered by Pinochet, Garzon said. He said the figure came from by a Madrid-based human rights group which requested the probe, the Fundacion Espanola Presidente Allende, which obtained it from Chilean investigators.
The foundation is named for Salvador Allende, the president that Pinochet ousted in 1973. Allende died in the coup.
Associated Press writer Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.