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Latino Daily News

Thursday February 10, 2011

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Sued Over Tsunami Handling Incompetence

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Sued Over Tsunami Handling Incompetence

Photo: Former Chilean President Sued over Tsunami

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A Chilean court made formal a lawsuit filed by a Chilean lawyer on Monday, against former President Bachelet for “Denial of Assistance” and “Abandonment of Destiny.”

According to Raúl Meza, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, it seeks to clarify and establish the roles and responsibilities of all members of the team formed in the National Emergency Office following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in late February of last year.

Meza alleges that the team—lead by Bachelet, was responsible for taking technical decisions without having the qualifications for doing so,  which makes them responsible for the 156 casualties of the Tsunami that struck between the regions of Valparaíso and Biobío.

The Chilean Navy - which runs the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service - admitted after the disaster to have committed mistakes in their analyses and given unclear information to the emergency team, which issued an alert, then deactivated it, and then issued it again, but after the tsunami had already taken its toll.

“The former president made technical decisions that she was not qualified to take,” Meza said. “The country must learn the truth. We hope she is cited, and declares as defendant, because we wish to understand the reason for her conduct”

The lawsuit also names former Interior Minister Edmundo Perez, former Defence Minister Francisco Vidal, the former deputy interior minister, Patricio Rosende, and Carmen Fernandez, the ex-head of Onemi - the National Emergency Office.

Following the court’s decision to go ahead with the lawsuit, the former Defense Minister Francisco Vidal denied the accusations, while saying he would collaborate with justice.

“All of our efforts from square one and through the ten following days until the end of our term in office, was dedicated 150% to solving the problems, and helping our people.” Vidal said.

If the former authorities are found guilty, they could face being banned from future public office.