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Friday, February 19, 1999 Published at 14:38 GMT

World: Europe

Vaitican confirms it has intervened on Pinochet's behalf

The Vatican has confirmed that it intervened on behalf of the detained former Chilean military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, over moves to extradite him to Spain.

A spokesman, Joaquin Navarro, said the Vatican made its appeal at the request of the Chilean government and that it was confidential.

On Thursday the British government disclosed it had received a written representation from a senior Vatican official about General Pinochet's arrest. One senior opposition politician, Lord Lamont, who is pressing for General Pinochet's release, said he thought Pope John Paul recognised -as he put it - the General's great contribution in protecting freedom during the Cold War. The eighty-three year old General Pinochet is waiting to hear whether his appeal against extradition, on charges of genocide, will be upheld.

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