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Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 15:32 GMT


Viewpoint: for and against



Mike Gatehouse is a British citizen who was imprisoned in the National Stadium, Santiago, in September 1973.

"This is a great day for international justice and all the conventions and embryonic institutions which have begun to embody it.

Whatever the Law Lords' verdict was to be, one thing has stayed with me through all the months since the glorious, undreamed of day of Pinochet's arrest last October: at last this architect of so much suffering and bereavement had felt the hand of justice tugging at his own lapels.

Vienna, Nuremberg, The Hague, Geneva and now London: the names of cities where courts have taken timid, but determined steps beyond the confines of national interest to assert that some crimes -slavery, genocide, summary execution and torture can never under any circumstances be justified.

Chileans everywhere should rejoice: it matters not that the court is not in Chile (and if that does concern you, why are you not clamouring for the General's extradition to stand trial in Santiago?).

A court, a system of justice is beginning the painstaking task of establishing that crimes were committed; that orders were given to arrest, maim, torture, kill; that those who gave the orders are perfectly identifiable; that the victims were not inventing: their loved ones did exist; did not leave them willingly; were not responsible for the appalling treatment they received.

Establishing these facts is the first and most essential task of justice; without today's verdict there was little hope that it could ever be completed."

Pedro Daza is the Vice President of the National Renovation Party in Santiago, Chile.

"The decision of the Lords is an important step in advance of the return of President Pinochet. The Law Lords have decided that President Pinochet has immunity up to 1988 and that is very important because the problem, we maintain, is reduced to one case of torture.

The decision must be decided by Home Minister Jack Straw. We believe there cannot be a decision to extradite with one case of torture. We will not be satisfied until President Pinochet returns.

We believe everything will be solved when he returns. The issue of sovereignty is very important to us and the fact that he is away affects the whole country. Chile's sovereignty is affected while President Pinochet remains in London but this is an important step towards the final solution.

We are confident. Minister Straw's decision is political. Today we are more hopeful than yesterday that President Pinochet will return to Chile."





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