Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 21:18 GMT


Pinochet must go to Spain, says Amnesty

Pinochet's case in the Lords will continue next week

Amnesty International restated its case in the House of Lords on Thursday for the extradition of former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet to Spain to answer charges of crimes against humanity.

The pinochet File
On behalf of the London-based human rights group, lawyer professor Ian Brownlie said that with no real prospect of Pinochet being tried in Chile or any international tribunal, Spain's extradition request was "the only vehicle for the emplacement of the rule of law in these matters".

He said extradition to Spain was the only means by which Pinochet could be deprived of a "wall of impunity."

Professor Brownlie repeated arguments used by lawyers representing Spain earlier this week that Pinochet's alleged crimes could not be deemed to constitute acts carried out in exercise of the functions of a head of state.

Seven Law Lords have been in session since Monday re-hearing arguments for and against Pinochet's claim of sovereign immunity to prosecution for crimes committed between 1973 and 1990 when he was in power.

Judged too close

Pinochet's initial claim of immunity was rejected by the Law Lords on November 25.

But the ruling was thrown out and the case sent back to the Lords in December after one judge, Lord Hoffman, was found to have close links with Amnesty.

Lawyers representing Chile and gen Pinochet, 83, had not yet been heard on Thursday, and it appeared likely the proceedings would extend into next week.

Professor Brownlie said on Thursday that Gen Pinochet had pushed through iron-clad laws protecting him from prosecution in Chile.

If that protection was ever lifted, said the lawyer, the best that could be hoped for would be a trial before a military tribunal, presumably sympathetic to the general.

He said: "The Chilean constitution which ... Pinochet was instrumental in drafting included a system of senators for life, who have complete immunity under Chilean law."

Amnesty was also expected to argue that, according to a historical perspective of international law, crimes against humanity are not covered by immunity, an argument that persuaded the Law Lords the first time around.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

08 Dec 98 | UK
Pinochet judge has Amnesty links

25 Nov 98 | UK
Pinochet faces extradition battle

30 Oct 98 | UK
Pinochet bailed

20 Oct 98 | UK
Campaigners push for Pinochet trial

19 Oct 98 | UK
Pinochet vows to fight extradition

Internet Links

Amnesty International

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named