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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK


World: Americas

Chile seeks arbitration on Pinochet case

Chilean supporters of General Pinochet are demanding his release

The Chilean government is to call on the International Court of Justice in The Hague to rule on whether Chile or Spain is competent to try the former military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, on torture charges.

The pinochet File
The Chilean Foreign Minister, Jose Miguel Insulza, said the International Court - a United Nations agency - was the proper forum to arbitrate in the case, as Spain, Chile and the UK had all signed the United Nations' Convention Against Torture in 1988.

"We will ask the governments of Spain and Great Britain to begin an arbitration process with respect to Spain's jurisdiction under the guidelines of the international convention on torture," Mr Insulza told reporters.

General Pinochet has been held in the UK since last October following his arrest at the request of Spanish prosecutors who allege he is responsible for more than 3,000 deaths and disappearances during his rule between 1973 and 1990.

Torture convention

The Chilean government has repeatedly insisted that only Chile has the right to General Pinochet for crimes committed in that country.


[ image: Mr Insulza says Chile wants the International Court to decide]
Mr Insulza says Chile wants the International Court to decide
Mr Insulza argues that the UN Convention on Torture states that people accused under it can only be tried in the country where the crimes were alleged to have been committed or in the country where they are detained.

On Sunday the 83-year-old former military leader told the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that he would "fight against this extradition with every ounce of my strength.

The interview followed the decision by UK Home Secretary Jack Straw, allowing extradition proceedings brought by Spain against General Pinochet to go ahead for crimes allegedly committed after the UK signed the Convention Against Torture.

In March, the UK's highest court, the House of Lords ruled he could only face extradition proceedings on charges of torture carried out after 1988 when Britain incorporated the convention into law 1988.



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Internet Links


The Pinochet Page

Why Pinochet should not go free

The President of Chile

The Home Office

Telegraph newspapers


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