Kissinger sued over CIA-backed kidnap

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The widow and three sons of the late Chilean commander General Rene Schneider are suing the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger for his role in a CIA-backed kidnapping attempt in 1970 that was botched and left the general dead.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington on Monday, cites the Nobel peace prize winner, the former director of the CIA Richard Helms and several others for approving the abduction of the leftist general. The lawsuit is asking for damages of $3m (£2.1m) for "summary execution", assault and civil rights violations.

General Schneider had opposed an American scheme to encourage a military coup to destabilise Chile and prevent the socialist Salvador Allende from taking office. Ultimately, General Pinochet's coup three years later was to oust Mr Allende in 1973.

Mr Kissinger has denied the latest charges and also refused to testify in three other cases filed in France, Argentina, and Chile that accuse him of knowing about the disappearances of young leftists.

In a scathing article published in the new edition of Foreign Affairs, Henry Kissinger condemned the practice of using the courts "to settle political accounts" against former presidents and officials.

The lawsuits have followed the revelations in recently declassified documents proving long-term suspicions that America was directly involved in Chile's affairs

At the weekend, police in Chile's capital, Santiago, used tear gas and water cannon to scatter demonstrators marking the 28th anniversary of the air raid that launched General Pinochet's dictatorship. More than 7,000 people marched in a demonstration organised by human rights groups, leftists and relatives of victims of repression during Pinochet's rule.