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James Reynolds in Santiago
"Many Chileans have now stopped following every detail of the Pinochet case."
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 23:43 GMT
Clashes after Pinochet ruling

Pinochet protesters Anti-Pinochet protests outside London's High Court


There have been violent clashes in the Chilean capital Santiago following the UK High Court's decision in London against General Augusto Pinochet.

The pinochet File
Around 100 angry Pinochet supporters protested outside the Belgian Embassy - the country behind the latest legal move to stop Pinochet from escaping extradition to Spain.

Witnesses said pro- and anti-Pinochet activists also clashed on the streets of Santiago.

In one incident, three Pinochet supporters repeatedly kicked a youth to the ground. Three arrests were made.

Anti-Pinochet delight

But Chilean human-rights activists were overjoyed, punching the air in celebration as the ruling, which stated the former dictator's medical papers should be released, blocked any rapid return home.

Pinochet supporter in Chile A Pinochet supporter in Santiago, Chile
Viviana Diaz, president of Families of the Detained Disappeared, said: "We are one step closer to seeing Pinochet being extradited to Spain to face the courts there."

Medical report

The High Court ruled on Tuesday that British Home Secretary Jack Straw must give a key medical report on the 84-year-old Pinochet to those countries seeking his extradition to stand trial for alleged torture.

Chile's Government said the decision puts the drawn-out case one step closer to being closed.

"There is not much left to debate ... we are in the final leg," Deputy Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said.

Alleged torture

Tuesday's ruling was a significant victory for the four European countries, Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland.

Together with Amnesty International, they want Pinochet to stand trial for alleged torture during his 1973-1990 rule in the aftermath of the bloody overthrow of the democratically elected Socialist president Salvador Allende.

More than 3,000 people died or disappeared under Pinochet's regime after his bloody 1973 military coup against Allende.

Tens of thousands of others fled into exile.

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See also:
14 Feb 00 |  UK
Pinochet medical to be released
12 Feb 00 |  UK
Pinochet health 'detoriates'
09 Dec 98 |  The Pinochet file
Chile's saviour - or tyrant

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