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Wednesday, December 2, 1998 Published at 02:30 GMT


Pinochet retreats to luxury estate

The ambulance carrying General Pinochet leaves the hospital

"It's a bit like having Adolf Hitler move in next door," was the verdict of one of General Augusto Pinochet's new neighbours.

The pinochet File
The general has arrived at an exclusive luxury estate in Surrey, southern England, having made the move from a private hospital in an ambulance with blacked-out windows.

He now waits to learn if he is to be extradited to Spain in connection with genocide and torture allegations during his rule in Chile.

That announcement is due on 11 December.

The BBC's James Robbins: Hospital management said General Pinochet had no need of further treatment
Earlier in the evening, he left the hospital,in North London, where he had been staying after the hospital stated publicly that he no longer needed medical treatment and should find alternative accommodation.

His new, temporary, residence is on the Wentworth estate - beside the Wentworth Golf Club, home to golf's World Matchplay championship.

It is not clear who owns the property where the general is now staying. Many of the large houses on the Wentworth estate are inhabited by diplomats and one local said that renting a mansion could cost the general £10,000 a month.

[ image: The Wentworth estate: It is not known who is taking the general in]
The Wentworth estate: It is not known who is taking the general in
In a further development, the US has said it will release documents on human rights abuses perpetrated at the time of the general's regime.

The state department stressed it did not have a public position on the legal cases against the general. A spokesman said that while documents had been provided to Madrid over the past year, it still felt Chilean Government opinion should be respected.

Leaving for luxury

The former Chilean military ruler was escorted out of the Grovelands Priory hospital in Southgate by a convoy of police cars.

General Pinochet's solicitor, Michael Caplan, makes a statement about the move
Before he arrived at the Wentworth estate, a police helicopter circled overhead several times and dozens of police officers converged on adjoining roads leading to the house where the general is believed to be staying.

Police Commander Carl Crathern, responsible for policing the North Surrey Division, said: "I can confirm that General Pinochet is now in residence in a house on the Wentworth estate."

Spain sets out its position

The Spanish Government has reiterated its position on his extradition.

Spain's Foreign Minister Abel Matutes told his Chilean opposite number, Jose Miguel Insulza, he could not intervene in the extradition process.

[ image: Mr Insulza (left) with Mr Matutes following their meeting]
Mr Insulza (left) with Mr Matutes following their meeting
He said if the British decided against extradition the Spanish would accept it.

Mr Insulza said judicial decisions on General Pinochet's fate should not be influenced by political considerations.

Earlier, he met the speaker of the lower house of the Spanish parliament, Federico Trillo, and said the former dictator was unlikely to get a fair trial if extradited.

He said: "The political climate in Spain is not favourable to General Pinochet and that carries weight in the judicial process even beyond the will of the judges to be impartial."

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