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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Augusto Pinochet Dead at 91

SANTIAGO, Chile -- General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Chile's democratically elected Marxist president in a bloody coup and ruled the Andean nation for 17 years, died Sunday at the age of 91, dashing hopes of victims of his regime's abuses that he would be brought to justice.

Pinochet was hospitalized with a heart attack on Dec. 3 and underwent an angioplasty to improve blood flow. His death was announced by the Santiago Military Hospital. Doctors said relatives were by his side.

Supporters of the former dictator, some of them weeping, stood at the entrance to the hospital, chanting: "Pinochet! Pinochet! Long Live Pinochet!" Some reacted angrily to anti-Pinochet motorists passing by.

Chile's government says at least 3,197 people were killed for political reasons during his rule, but after leaving the presidency in 1990, Pinochet escaped hundreds of criminal complaints because of his declining physical and mental health.

Pinochet took power on Sept. 11, 1973, demanding an unconditional surrender from President Salvador Allende as warplanes bombed the presidential palace in downtown Santiago. Allende subsequently committed suicide with a submachine gun he had received as a gift from Fidel Castro.

As the mustachioed Pinochet crushed dissent during his 1973-90 rule, he left little doubt about who was in charge. "Not a leaf moves in this country if I'm not moving it," he once said.

But when it came to his regime's abuses, Pinochet refused for years to take responsibility, saying any murders of political prisoners were the work of subordinates.

Then on his 91st birthday -- less than one month before his death -- he took "full political responsibility for everything that happened" during his long reign. The statement read by his wife, however, made no reference to the rights abuses.

Pinochet is survived by his wife, Lucia, who headed a volunteer women's organization dedicated to helping the poor, two sons and three daughters.