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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 02:53 GMT 03:53 UK
Kissinger accused over Chile plot
Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state
Mr Kissinger has denied his involvement
A lawsuit has been filed against the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger over his alleged role in the death of the former Chilean army commander, General Rene Schneider, in 1970.

The suit was filed in Washington by members of the general's family. They accuse Mr Kissinger of being involved in what they say was a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plot to kill him.

General Schneider died after resisting a kidnapping attempt which, the family says, was part of a wider plot to prevent the Chilean Marxist leader, Salvador Allende, from becoming president.

Mr Kissinger has repeatedly denied any involvement in General Schneider's death.

The court action follows several requests by judges in Chile and Argentina judges to question Mr Kissinger over human rights abuses committed during the military regimes of the 1970s.

The BBC correspondent in Washington says the lawsuit stems from an investigation by a US television network, which claims that CIA communications contradict Mr Kissinger's version of events.

Conspiracy

General Schneider's family say the botched kidnapping attempt took place as part of a covert White House campaign to prevent Socialist Salvador Allende from becoming president.

General Pinochet and Salvador Allende
General Pinochet (l) ousted President Allende

Both Mr Kissinger and his boss, the then-president Richard Nixon, were heavily involved in backing anti-Allende factions in Chile, the indictment alleges.

The general was a key player in Chile at the time as he had provided crucial backing to Mr Allende after his narrow presidential election victory on 4 September 1970.

In an apparent attempt to remove Mr Allende's military support, coup plotters attempted to kidnap General Schneider, but shot him when he reached for his gun in self-defence.

He died two days after the attempt on 24 October 1970 in Santiago's Military Hospital.

'No connection'

Mr Kissinger, President Nixon's national security adviser at the time, and later secretary of state for both Mr Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford, has always denied his involvement.

Richard Nixon
Mr Kissinger served under the late former president Nixon

In 1975, a US Senate investigation established that America had indeed backed a coup which eventually brought down Mr Allende three years later, and set up the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

However, Mr Kissinger testified before the Senate hearing that he cut off all support for the coup plotters the week before General Schneider was murdered.

A high-ranking State Department official referred to previously declassified documents about the situation in Chile during the 1960s and '70s, saying "the documents speak for themselves".

See also:

29 May 01 | Americas
US bars Kissinger in Pinochet probe
30 Jun 00 | Americas
New lead into Chile murder
09 Oct 99 | Americas
CIA linked to 'Missing' murder
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