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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 14:29 GMT


Spanish judge details Pinochet charges

Protesters in Santiago burnt the British flag

The Spanish judge requesting the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet has issued the criminal indictment which charges him with crimes against humanity.

The 285-page document includes allegations that Gen Pinochet was responsible for genocide, torture and terrorism,

Judge Baltasar Garzon is also asking for the former Chilean ruler's assets to be frozen.

The pinochet File
The move comes just one day after UK Home Secretary Jack Straw gave the go-ahead for extradition proceedings against the 83-year-old general.

Meanwhile, lawyers acting for the former ruler are expected to challenge the decision to allow those proceedings to continue.

A legal challenge is likely to prolong an already lengthy process by months because both sides can appeal at every stage.

The general will make his first court appearance on Friday when he appears at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south-east London.

Flag-burning protests in Chile

In Chile police have used water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting against the decision to allow extradition proceedings to go ahead.

[ image:  ]
Several hundred supporters of the general gathered outside the British ambassador's residence to voice their anger at Mr Straw's ruling.

They burned British flags and called for General Pinochet's immediate return to Chile.

Around a dozen protesters were arrested. The Chilean Government has appealed for calm.

Soon after Mr Straw's decision was announced the Chilean ambassador to Britain, Mario Artaza, was "recalled immediately for consultation" by his country's president.

Paul Reynolds reports on reactions in Chile
Mr Artaza described the home secretary's decision as "quasi-judicial" and accused the UK Government of including political factors in the moves.

The Chilean army also condemned Mr Straw's ruling, calling it "abusive and humiliating". It said the extradition proceedings against its former commander-in-chief were an "attack on Chile's national sovereignty".

President Eduardo Frei and Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza are due to return to Santiago later on Thursday from a trade summit held in Brazil.

President Frei's administration has already come under pressure from the armed forces and from the opposition to get the general back to Chile.

Our correspondent in Santiago, James Reynolds, says many in Chile now feel that there is little the government can do to influence the outcome of the extradition proceedings against General Pinochet.

Click here to send us your e-mails on whether you agree with Jack Straw's decision.

BBC Two's Westminister Live also wants your views for a live studio debate on Thursday afternoon. Click here to send an e-mail.

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