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Chile's High Court Drops Indictment of Pinochet Relatives, Aides

The Chilean Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision dismissing embezzlement charges against relatives and aides of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet but ordered an audit of his accounts.

A judge, Alberto Chaigneau, says the Supreme Court voted unanimously Wednesday to uphold the decision.

Last month, an appeals court said Pinochet's widow, four of his five adult children and about 10 of his aides could not be accused of embezzling millions of dollars of state money. The court said there was no evidence they knew of a criminal effort to obtain public funds.

The ruling did not cover one of the late dictator's sons because he did not join his family in filing an appeal.

Also Wednesday, the Chilean Supreme Court ordered a prosecuting judge, Carlos Cerda, to conduct the inventory of Pinochet's assets.

Pinochet's widow, Lucia Hiriart, along with their five children and 17 former associates, were arrested in October on the charges. They were later released.

The arrests were related to an investigation into multi-million-dollar accounts the late military ruler held in banks in the United States and elsewhere. Pinochet, who held power from 1973 to 1990, died last December without ever facing trial on charges of embezzlement and human rights violations.

Family members previously have been charged with tax evasion.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.