SANTIAGO – Two Communist lawmakers have filed suit against Lucia Hiriart, widow of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, for misappropriation of public assets in CEMA Chile, a foundation she administered up to a few weeks ago and which is now being investigated by the law.
According to judicial sources, the lawsuit was filed by legislators Hugo Gutierrez and Karol Cariola of the Communist Party, together with the Relatives of Disappeared Detainees Group, or AFDD.
The measure is aimed at Hiriart and others responsible for crimes of misappropriation of public assets, tax fraud and embezzlement.
The Chilean Justice Ministry is investigating what happened to 135 parcels of public lands handed over to CEMA Chile without charge during the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship.
The Communist lawmakers and the AFDD accuse the foundation of selling more than 30 of the properties between 2009 and 2015 for more than 12 billion pesos (some $18 million).
CEMA Chile was created in 1957 to help needy women organize and work as a community to improve their lives, but after the coup of 1973, Lucia Hiriart took over the presidency and changed the statutes to allow her to stay in the post indefinitely.
Nonetheless, as the judicial investigation progressed, Pinochet’s widow resigned the presidency after some stormy days following a news report in November 2015 that she was enriching herself with the sale and rental of public lands administered by the foundation.
It also came to light last week that CEMA Chile transferred funds to pay for “expenses associated” with the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London, where he remained between October 1998 and March 2000.
According to a report by the Investigative Police, or PDI, of Oct. 2005, which reproduces minutes of the board of CEMA Chile, in November 1998 it authorized the transfer of $50,000 to Lucia Hiriart to deal with the expenses of the dictator’s detention in Britain.