The former commander in chief of the Chilean army has been taken into custody for his alleged participation in the killing of 15 left-wing militants at the start of that country's military dictatorship in 1973.

Retired Gen. Juan Emilio Cheyre was arrested Thursday on orders from Judge Mario Carroza, who heads investigations into human rights violations.

Cheyre was the army's commander in 2002-2006. He has denied the charges leveled against him, but has acknowledged that human rights abuses occurred during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

In June, two former political prisoners said Cheyre had tortured them.