Chile: Former Pinochet-era general commits suicide ahead of jail transfer

A former Chilean general serving six years in prison for crimes committed during Augusto Pinochet’s bloody regime committed suicide on Saturday while on weekend release from jail.

Odlanier Mena, 87, shot himself in the head two days after President Sebastian Pinera announced plans to close the luxury jail for dictatorship-era military officials convicted of crimes against humanity, where Mena was being held.

Mena was to be transferred, along with nine other prisoners, to a facility with fewer privileges.

A lawyer representing the ex-spy chief said his client had been worried about the move.

Mena was jailed in 2009 for his role in the so-called Caravan of Death military operation, which is believed to have killed more than 100 opponents of Pinochet’s bloody coup in 1973 that ousted socialist leader Salvador Allende.  

Thousands of people were killed or disappeared during Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship.

Pinochet was arrested during a visit to the UK in 1998 and later sent back to Chile where he spent his last years fighting charges relating to human rights abuses and corruption. He died in 2006 at the age of 91.

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