Santiago.– Augusto Pinochet forged his wife's signature on several bank documents, according to a handwriting analysis completed on the orders of the judge investigating the former Chilean dictator's multimillion-dollar accounts, the press reported Thursday.
The analysis, which was submitted this week to Judge Carlos Cerda, concluded that Pinochet forged his wife's signature on 12 of 16 checks examined, the La Tercera newspaper said.
The handwriting experts focused on members of Pinochet's family and his close associates, the paper said.
The judge ordered the extensive analysis in response to a Dec. 28 report from a handwriting expert who concluded that the signature on a good number of the bank documents that implicated Lucia Hiriart, Pinochet's wife, were forgeries.
After receiving the report, Cerda ordered that Pinochet, his children Augusto, Marco Antonio and Jacqueline, as well as close associates of the man who ruled this South American nation from 1973-1990, provide handwriting samples.
If the new analysis agrees with the conclusions of the earlier one, the former dictator could face forgery charges.
The 90-year-old Pinochet faces tax evasion charges arising from a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigation that revealed that he had millions of dollars in secret accounts at Washington's Riggs Bank.
A subsequent judicial probe in Chile found that the former dictator had amassed a personal fortune of roughly $27 million, an enormous sum for a career soldier whose annual salary never exceeded $15,000.
Pinochet has also been charged with falsifying passports and other documents.
The newspaper said sources close to the defense downplayed the latest allegations against the former general since signing for a spouse was common among married people.
Lucia Hiriart and one of the couple's sons, Marco Antonio, were indicted Aug. 10, 2005, by Judge Sergio Muñoz as accomplices in the tax fraud allegedly committed by Pinochet.
Muñoz, who launched an investigation into the origins of the former dictator's fortune in mid-2004, also indicted as accomplices Pinochet's former executor, Oscar Aiken, and his private secretary, Monica Ananias.
Muñoz was named to a seat on the Supreme Court and Cerda was named to take his place.
Hiriart and Marco Antonio are currently free on bail.
Pinochet also faces charges in another case involving the kidnapping and killing of scores of political opponents.
The former dictator's military regime is blamed for the killing of some 3,000 real or imagined opponents and the torture and illegal detention of thousands of others.
Pinochet was released from house arrest Jan. 11 after posting bail of about $19,000 in a case involving the murders of political foes.
He had been under house arrest since Nov. 24 in connection with his prosecution for "Operation Colombo," a plot by DINA, the military dictatorship's secret police, to cover up the disappearances of 119 government opponents in 1975.