Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 18:56 GMT
Joy and anger at Pinochet ruling
Anti-Pinochet demonstrators in Madrid celebrate as they hear the news
The ruling by British judges that former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet does not have immunity from prosecution was greeted with tears of joy by families of his victims in the Chilean capital Santiago.
"It is a transcendental moment for all of humanity," Viviana Diaz, the vice-president of the group representing families who lost members to the military regime, said.
But supporters of the general violently rejected the ruling, venting their anger on reporters in Santiago.
Pro-Pinochet protesters pushed, jeered and shouted insults at representatives of the national and international media covering reactions to the verdict.
"My father has received a sadistic and cruel blow on his (83rd) birthday that goes beyond the rights of mankind," he shouted.
Members of the government appealed for calm, fearing a repeat of the violent demonstrations which occured following General Pinochet's arrest last month.
Riot police were called in to clear anti-Pinochet demonstrators from the streets, using water cannon and tear gas.
Chilean President Eduardo Frei said Chile would contest the ruling and reiterated Chile's claim that General Pinochet, a senator for life, enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Mr Frei said he would send a protest message to London and ordered Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza to fly to Europe to back up his government's stance.
Anti-Pinochet protesters in Madrid greeted the Law Lords' decision ecstatically.
Isabel Allende, the daughter of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, welcomed the news.
"I think that in many ways his prediction has come true 25 years on."
The BBC's correspondent in Madrid Daniel Schweimler says that while opponents of General Pinochet in Spain are celebrating, the Spanish government has sought all along to keep its distance from the case.
Madrid is sensitive about its relations with Chile, which have been very close, and is also concerned for the safety of some 40,000 Spaniards living in Chile.