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Impeachment proceedings against Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to go ahead as opponents expect final house vote to follow
Chile’s opposition leader accuses President Bachelet of committing ‘a grave crime’
Chile’s opposition leader has accused the president, Michelle Bachelet, of committing a grave crime with her light sentencing in a tax fraud case, as senators prepared to vote in the country’s historic impeachment trial.
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The Senate is expected to vote on an impeachment motion against Bachelet on Thursday. She was given one-year probation with a fine as punishment in the case, which could have seen her sent to prison.
Victor Jara, the former rebel leader assassinated during the Pinochet dictatorship, was one of 20 former military officers charged with his kidnapping, torture and murder in a case related to the 1973-1990 dictatorship.
The Senate is reportedly set to decide on an impeachment motion on Thursday. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP
Critics say Bachelet has abused her office and used her relationship with fellow activist indigenous Mapuche lawyer Christian Zamora to strengthen her powers – while consolidating her opposition to the authoritarian former ruler and his allies.
“What we’re seeing with this sentence and what we saw with former dictator General Augusto Pinochet is a pattern of corruption and impunity,” said Nestor Frei of the opposition Chile Movement party.
“We can’t wait to vote … because the president should have shown more respect to those who sacrificed for democracy and the revolution.”
The Chilean constitution currently allows impeachment of the president, but only to try to remove him or her from office for “grave criminal acts”. Bachelet’s accomplices, including her right-hand man, are also facing long prison sentences.