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Former Chilean General Under Pinochet Dies in Apparent Suicide

A retired Chilean general died of a gunshot wound to the head on Thursday, in an apparent suicide days after a court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for planning the murder of a chemist who worked for former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Hernan Ramirez Rurange, 76, was sentenced along with 13 other ex-army officers on Tuesday for planning the murder of Eugenio Berrios, whose body was found on a Uruguayan beach in 1995.

Berrios' death was part of a scheme by Pinochet operatives to obstruct human rights investigations into the dictator's 1973 to 1990 regime, according to the court.

The Chilean government said on Thursday that Ramirez Rurange died of a gunshot wound at his home in an upscale Santiago neighborhood, but did not provide further details.

Local media reported that the former general killed himself.

He was set to begin his sentence within days.

Berrios oversaw the production of sarin gas and other chemicals for Pinochet's government, and long faced allegations that he helped poison a popular Chilean politician in 1982.

Some 25 years since Pinochet left power, human rights abuse cases dating from the dictatorship era are still moving through the Chilean courts or coming to light for the first time.

Ramirez Rurange's death comes just days after Manuel Contreras, the head of Pinochet's feared secret police, died of natural causes on August 7, prompting celebrations in the capital.