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Ex-Chilean ruler says he’s `hurt’ by ouster effort

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Former dictator Augusto Pinochet said he has been "hurt and astonished" by lawmakers' attempts to dump him from his new position as senator-for-life.

He said Tuesday that he expected the effort to impeach him would fail.Pinochet was sworn as a senator a week ago, prompting protests in several cities and reminders from his fellow senators of the massive human-rights violations committed during Pinochet's 1973-90 dictatorship.

According to official figures, more than 3,000 people were killed for political reasons during Pinochet's rule.

Pinochet had barely taken his congressional seat in this port near Santiago when legislators began an impeachment attempt. They accused him of "seriously damaging the honor and the security of the nation" through actions and remarks he made after stepping down as president in 1994.

Pinochet countered that he had "devoted his entire life to the service of his country."

The formal accusations to impeach him are likely to be approved by the Lower House of Congress, where the government coalition holds a majority, but are considered doomed in the Senate, where the right wing has a majority. The Senate's ruling is final.

Pinochet's first working session as senator was uneventful, in contrast to last week's opening session that was marked by angry protests both inside and outside the Senate.

"How can they say that I have affected our national security after I have served in the army for 65 years?" he asked of his accusers. "Quite the contrary, I have given security to my country by avoiding two wars."

Pinochet has been credited, even by his foes, with successfully overcoming crises with neighboring Argentina and Peru in the 1970s, when territorial disputes threatened to break out in bloodshed.