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Tuesday, October 20, 1998 Published at 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK


Call for calm in Chile

Riot police intervened to break up pro-Pinochet demonstrations

The Chilean Government has appealed for calm following a violent demonstration by supporters of the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

On Monday night hundreds of protestors gathered around the British and Spanish embassies in Santiago, denouncing the general's arrest in London.

[ image: Some 50 people were arrested]
Some 50 people were arrested
"Pinochet, Pinochet! We want you back again!" they shouted as they threw stones and eggs at police.

The police responded with tear gas to try to disperse the crowds.

Demonstrators also threw stones at the Spanish Ambassador's residence. The authorities said about 50 protesters were arrested and 12 injured in the clashes.

James Robbins: "The arrest has re-ignited dangerous passions in Chile"
Interior Minister and Vice President Raul Troncoso called on the nation to keep calm over General Pinochet's arrest.

"These events, which are taking place outside of our borders, should not disrupt the peaceful coexistence between us, or even less revive old conflicts that we Chileans have been able to overcome."

Earlier, Mr Troncoso met with the cabinet and issued a statement saying General Pinochet was protected by diplomatic immunity.

[ image: General Pinochet: Diplomatic passport, but not accredited]
General Pinochet: Diplomatic passport, but not accredited
Mr Pinochet travelled to London with a diplomatic passport, which identifies him as "ambassador on a special mission".

The Chileans say he should therefore be accorded immunity. But Britain disagrees.

It says diplomatic immunity is reserved for accredited diplomats or foreign government officials on official visits, and the general never received accreditation as an ambassador, or registered his diplomatic status officially.

Brian Hanrahan: Pinochet is accused of genocide, torture and terrorism
Chilean foreign ministry lawyer Santiago Benadava was due to travel to London where he is expected to press for a deal in which Britain would expel General Pinochet, but not extradite him to Spain.

The Spanish authorities want to question the general over the alleged torture and killing of Spanish nationals in Chile when he was in charge.

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