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Friday, 3 March, 2000, 15:38 GMT
Pinochet in the Spanish and Chilean media
Pinochet: a 'political corpse and piece of human misery'
Pinochet: A 'political corpse and piece of human misery'
Spanish and Chilean newspapers commenting on General Pinochet's return home were convinced that his detention in the UK had brought important changes both for Chile and for the rest of the world.

Spain's 'El Mundo' described the former leader's release as a "victory of a lost cause".

"The case we are leaving behind us has not been in vain.

Universal crimes

"Many thought this was a lost cause, and indeed, the cause has been lost. But it has also been won," the paper's editorial said.

"It is now widely-known that immunity for heads-of-state is not an all-purpose insurance policy, and it has been established that certain crimes against humanity are universal and have no statute of limitations," the paper said.

"A decisive step has been taken towards setting up an international criminal court. This is a great victory."

Trial

But a question remained as to Pinochet's fate now that he had returned home.

"It remains to be seen whether the Chilean authorities will now act on what they have been saying for 503 days - that Pinochet must be tried in his own country," it said.

"The ex-dictator now faces 58 lawsuits in the Chile he left as a haughty man and to which he returns as a political corpse and a piece of human misery."

Spain's 'El Pais' agreed that the Pinochet affair had ramifications beyond the case against the man himself.

Fairer world

"Today the world is a little bit fairer than when the dictator was detained in London in October 1998," the paper said.

"Pinochet should disappear from political life for the health of Chilean democracy."

"If he is not capable of standing trial he should also be unable to sit in the Senate."

An editorial in the independent Chilean newspaper 'La Tercera' said the country General Pinochet returned to was very different form the one he left a year and a half ago.

"It's clear that for a majority of the population, Pinochet already belongs to the past," it said.

The paper considered the possibility of court action against the former military ruler, and discussed whether he would take up his activities as a senator once more.

Sovereignty

But it expressed the hope that the wounds of the past would now be allowed to heal.

For the southern Chilean newspaper 'El Sur', Pinochet's return brought an end to a period in which some countries had rejected the country's national authority.

"The liberation of Senator Pinochet is an act which re-establishes [Chile's] sovereignty, after a lamentable episode," the paper's editorial said.

But it warned that his return should not become the cause of renewed violence in the country.

"Neither the jubilation of some nor the frustration of others can justify violent acts which might disturb our co-existence, even less when the country finds itself on the threshold of a change of government, which will have to face urgent and important tasks," the editorial said.

"The world is watching with interest what is happening inside our borders and it is time for Chile to show its civic maturity and to demonstrate that its democratic institutions have the strength to resolve matters which concern national life."

BBC Monitoring at http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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See also:

03 Mar 00 |  Americas
Pinochet arrives in Chile
12 Jan 00 |  The Pinochet file
The Pinochet case: Timeline

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