Former head of Pinochet's secret police dead in Chile

Former head of Pinochet's secret police dead in Chile

SANTIAGO - Manuel Contreras, the former head of Chile's feared intelligence service under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, died Friday. He was 86.

Contreras died in a military hospital in Santiago, officials said.

The ex-general had been sentenced to more than 500 years in prison for a string of human rights abuses including the kidnap, torture and murder of opponents.

Contreras's health had worsened in recent days, and he had been suffering from diabetes and cancer.

Dozens of people came to the military hospital to "celebrate" the death of one of Chile's most notorious criminals.

Contreras was considered Pinochet's right-hand man and led the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), which is blamed for the deaths or disappearances of more than 3,200 victims.

Pinochet seized power in 1973 in a military coup that overthrew president Salvador Allende, and ruled until 1990, although he stayed on for eight more years as head of the military, which gave him immunity from prosecution.

Pinochet died in 2006 aged 91.

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