`God will know that my sacrifice was for peace' `God willing, mine will be the final sacrifice'

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The Independent Online
GENERAL AUGUSTO Pinochet said little in court in Britain. But in a dramatic document issued in Chile, he implied that he was resigned to his fate and for the first time clearly played the martyr card, saying that his "sacrifice" may bring unity and reconciliation in his country. He also admitted for the first time that 3,000 people died during his regime.

"God willing, mine will be the final sacrifice [for Chile]," he wrote in what sounded almost like a last will and testament, and suggested that he now cared more about being remembered as "the saviour" of his own country than about his future in Britain or Spain. He showed no remorse and said he had "never desired the death of anyone.

"God willing, my pain and the attacks on me will satisfy the unquenchable thirst for revenge," he wrote in a statement read to the media by his long-time friend and former cabinet minister Carlos Caceres. Immediately after General Pinochet's words were heard on radio and television, a group of his supporters marched towards the presidential palace but were confronted by anti-Pinochet passers-by.

After a shouting and shoving match, police separated them and arrested several.

"I have been the target of a cowardly political machination which has no moral value," General Pinochet's statement said.

"While in this continent [Europe], and specifically in the countries that condemn me through spurious trials, Communism killed many million human beings during this century, they are persecuting me for having overcome it in Chile, saving the country from a virtual civil war.

"That meant 3,000 deaths, of which almost a third were uniformed men or civilians who fell victim to socialist terrorism.

"I'm totally innocent of all the crimes they accuse me of. I never desired the death of anyone and I feel the most sincere grief for all the Chileans who lost their lives during those years. I pray humbly to God, until the last second of my life, that he gives me the lucidity to understand and accept this cross, that this grief that I carry in the most depths of my spirit becomes a good seed in the soul of the Chilean people.

"I conserve intact my faith in God. I maintain the firm hope that the Lord, in His infinite mercy, applies my most intimate suffering for those who died unjustly in those years of suffering and clashes.

"They are wrong, those who think that the grief over the blood spilt for our fatherland is monopolised by one side. We have all suffered for the victims. I state that the suffering is especially strong for those who did not provoke any clashes, who did not look for them but ended up being innocent victims.

"The soldier always seeks to protect his compatriots. I never desired the death of anyone and I feel sincere grief for all the Chileans who lost their lives in those years.

"If, with my suffering, I can put an end to the hatred which was sown in my country, I'm prepared to accept... destiny with the complete confidence that God, in His infinite love, will know that this sacrifice was so that peace triumphs... and when the new century dawns, Chileans will be united and reconciled the way they always dreamed."

General Pinochet's supporters wept as they heard his words. His opponents noted that his "sacrifice" involved spending Christmas in his favourite country, surrounded by his entire family, in a country house the average Chilean, or Briton for that matter, could only dream of.

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