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Ruling In Letelier Case This Week

Amid ominous stirrings in the military, the Supreme Court decides this week whether two army officers convicted in the assassination of an exiled politician will go to prison.

Retired Gen. Manuel Contreras, the former head of Chile’s feared secret police, and his second in command, Brig. Pedro Espinoza, are appealing convictions in the assassination of Orlando Letelier.

Letelier was killed Sept. 21, 1976, when his car was blown up by a bomb in Washington, D.C.

Letelier had been an envoy to Washington and a Cabinet minister in the leftist government of President Salvador Allende, which was toppled in a bloody 1973 coup.

The court is expected to rule no later than Wednesday.

Local news media have quoted unidentified military sources as saying commanders fear the trial will prompt prosecutions of officers for past human rights violations.

Tags: murder