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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 21:57 GMT


Pinochet faces further charges

General Pinochet's supporters celebrated the House of Lords ruling

A further 32 cases of alleged torture have been added to the extradition charge list against former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

The pinochet File
Spanish High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon issued a writ on Friday saying he had proof of the offences allegedly committed between 1988 and 1990.

The move came two days after the House of Lords in London threw out almost all the charges levelled against General Pinochet.

This was because they pre-dated the UK's adoption of an international law allowing any nation to try anyone accused of torture.

Spain is seeking to try General Pinochet on charges alleging human rights violations during his regime from 1973 to 1990.

[ image: Judge Baltasar Garzon has increased the charges]
Judge Baltasar Garzon has increased the charges
The majority of the alleged crimes he had been charged with were said to have happened before Britain's signing of the International Convention Against Torture on September 29, 1988.

This meant that while the Law Lords ruled that General Pinochet had no absolute immunity from arrest as a former head of state, most of the charges against him were dropped.

Joshua Rozenberg reports on the meeting between a former PM and a former dictator
Mr Garzon, whose investigation triggered General Pinochet's arrest in London last October, criticised the House of Lords' ruling as "inhumane".

He said in the new court papers sent to Britain, that family members of those who disappeared during General Pinochet's rule had the right to know the whereabouts of their loved ones, regardless of the date they disappeared.

'Inhumane act'

"To deny this right just because they were deprived of their freedom before September 1988 could be in itself an inhumane act", he wrote.

His 17-page list of charges was sent to Britain in response to a request by British prosecutors.

They had urged the judge to prove charges of conspiracy to torture, and to show that people had been tortured as a consequence of a policy of systematic and generalised repression.

The list covers 32 cases of torture allegedly committed between September 1988 and March 1990.

Torture methods

The methods claimed to have been used include severe beatings of victims in "every part of the body", the use of electric shocks, burnings with cigarette butts, simulated executions and the forcing of victims to play Russian roulette.

The list also includes the names of the victims who allegedly suffered these incidents of torture carried out by members of the military regime led by General Pinochet.

Mr Garzon argued in the papers that since many of those who had disappeared had not reappeared, an extra 1,198 forced disappearance cases could also be included in the charges against the former dictator.

He pointed out that in the extradition request he drew up last year, he had listed the cases of eight people claimed to have suffered torture after September 1988.

[ image: General Pinochet waits under house arrest]
General Pinochet waits under house arrest
Since the Lords' ruling, Baroness Thatcher has visited General Pinochet at the home where he is staying under house arrest in Wentworth, Surrey.

During the visit, which was televised live, the former UK prime minister thanked her old friend for being an ally during the 1982 Falklands war, and for - as she put it - bringing democracy to Chile.

Home Secretary Jack Straw now has to decide whether to allow Spain's extradition request to go forward.

When the Law Lords' ruling was announced on Wednesday, General Pinochet's lawyers immediately applied for a judicial review of Mr Straw's original decision to begin extradition proceedings.

The High Court will consider that appeal on Monday.

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