"There won't be much enthusiasm in the administration for this because the U.S. was deeply implicated in Pinochet's rise to power," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "A Pinochet trial might open a very unpalatable can of worms." But if the Justice Department finds sufficient proof of Pinochet's role in the attack -- and there is substantial evidence suggesting an action of this nature would have required the general's authorization -- nixing a trial might have to be a political decision taken by Janet Reno and her boss.
Don't expect to see Washington champing at the bit to launch this particular trial: Attorney General Janet Reno confirmed Friday that the Justice Department is investigating charges that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet may have ordered a 1976 car bomb attack in Washington, D.C., that killed a prominent Chilean exile and his American assistant. The investigation follows a request for assistance from the Spanish judge pressing for Pinochet's extradition from Britain.