Chilean Police Clash With Anti-Pinochet Demonstrators

Police in Chile have clashed with demonstrators protesting against the screening of a documentary praising Gen Augusto Pinochet.

A riot police officer is kicked while trying to arrest a human rights supporter during clashes at a rally against the launch on a book on retired Chilean Brigadier Miguel Krassnoff in Santiago November 21, 2011. The book celebrates Krassnoff's work while he was in the Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), the secret police during Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's regime, according to local media. Krassnoff is currently serving 144 years in prison from 23 sentences for the kidnap, torture and murder of Pinochet's opponents.

Police in Chile have clashed with demonstrators protesting against the screening of a documentary praising Gen Augusto Pinochet.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters at Caupolican theatre. There were several arrests.

The general ruled the South American country for 17 years and died in 2006.

The Chilean government estimates that more than 3,000 people were killed during the Pinochet years, included those whose bodies have not been found.

Thousands more were tortured, arrested or forced into exile during his rule.

General Pinochet led a coup against the democratically-elected Marxist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, on 11 September 1973 and only left power in 1990.

Divisive heritage

Relatives of victims say the documentary, "Pinochet", is insensitive and glorifies the general's brutal regime.

The organisers say it aims to show Gen Pinochet as he really was, and not as the media portrayed him - as a ruthless dictator.

"We want to set the record straight," said Juan Gonzalez, a retired army officer who leads the pro-Pinochet movement behind the film.

"We have stoically put up with the lies and the cheating and seen how the story has been manipulated."

Right-wing politicians and former members of the Chilean military have been invited.

This is one of the biggest pro-Pinochet gatherings since the general died in 2006.

The controversy shows how divisive Gen Pinochet remains, nearly four decades after the coup that brought him to power, says the BBC's Gideon Long in Santiago.

For some he was a hero who saved Chile from communism, but for others he was as brutal murderer who should be reviled, not applauded, our correspondent says.

The government says the right to free speech must be respected.