SANTIAGO, Chile — An appeals court dropped homicide and kidnapping charges against Gen. Augusto Pinochet on Monday, leaving the former dictator’s legal fate in the hands of the Supreme Court.
A panel in the Santiago Court of Appeal voted 3-0 to drop the charges and lift a house arrest order against the 85-year-old retired general.
While the ruling was a clear victory for Pinochet, it did not bring an end to his long legal battle against accusations stemming from the massive human rights abuses during his 1973-90 rule.
As exultant Pinochet supporters were still celebrating, lawyers for the plaintiffs filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, which could rule as soon as Thursday.
The outcome at the Supreme Court appears uncertain, as at least three of the five judges to issue the verdict voted against Pinochet when the court stripped him of his congressional immunity, a step that paved the way for his indictment.
Pinochet was indicted Dec. 1 by Judge Juan Guzman, who held him responsible for abuses by the "Caravan of Death," a military operation that executed political prisoners shortly after the Sept. 11, 1973, coup in which Pinochet ousted Marxist President Salvador Allende.
Guzman charged Pinochet with homicide for 55 of the victims whose bodies were recovered and with kidnapping for 18 who remain unaccounted for.
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