Chilean Official: Pinochet Had Secret Botulinum Stash

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 23, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Former Chilean dic­tat­or Au­gusto Pinochet’s re­gime al­legedly main­tained a cov­ert sup­ply of botulin­um tox­in that could have been used to kill “thou­sands” of people, Ger­many’s Deutsche Presse-Agen­tur re­por­ted on Thursday.

Mi­cro­bi­o­lo­gist In­grid Heit­mann, the dir­ect­or of the Chilean Pub­lic Health In­sti­tute in the late 1990s, told the news out­let that her col­leagues found two un­marked boxes of the bio­lo­gic­al weapon in the in­sti­tute’s base­ment in 2008. She ordered the syr­inges full of the pois­on des­troyed, and nev­er re­por­ted their dis­cov­ery to the Chilean pres­id­ent or courts at the time, she said in an in­ter­view.

Al­varo Erazo, a former Chilean health min­is­ter, said the rev­el­a­tion could have ser­i­ous rami­fic­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the San­ti­ago Times.

“Of course this news im­pacts the whole coun­try be­cause of the im­plic­a­tions it may have in hu­man rights vi­ol­a­tions cases,” he told Una Nueva Man­ana, ac­cord­ing to the Times.

The bac­teri­ally pro­duced tox­in — a key in­gredi­ent in Botox cos­met­ic treat­ments — was de­veloped throughout the 20th cen­tury for aer­i­al dis­pers­al dur­ing war­fare, and it is con­sidered a pos­sible tool for an act of bi­o­ter­ror­ism.

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