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Gen. Manuel Contreras, who headed the feared spy agency that kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands during Chile's military dictatorship, died late Friday at a military hospital while serving a combined sentence of more than 500 years for crimes against humanity.After the 1973 military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet that ousted the socialist government of President Salvador Allende, Contreras formed and commanded the DINA spy agency and went on to become the second most powerful and feared figure of the regime after Pinochet himself.Contreras was among Pinochet's closest confidants early on, but the pair exchanged accusations in their final years. While Contreras alleged his former boss amassed a fortune trafficking drugs to Europe, Pinochet accused the spy chief of acting without his consent and committing the era's worst abuses.Most of the disappearances occurred during the dictatorship's early years, when Contreras was head of intelligence.After Chile returned to democracy in 1990, Contreras was indicted in the Letelier case and eventually served seven years for the assassination.
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