French justice officials say they will try 17 former Chilean government officials who served under the late dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

The officials will be tried in connection with the disappearances of four French citizens between 1973 and 1990, when Pinochet was in power.

The 17 - including Manuel Contreras, the head of the Chilean secret police under Pinochet - are expected to be tried in absentia.

Pinochet himself died in December at the age of 91. He died without ever facing trial on numerous charges against him in connection with some 3,000 cases of murder, disappearances and torture blamed on his regime.

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