Saturday, December 12, 1998 Published at 17:09 GMT
Chile cuts contacts with UK
Pinochet supporters and opposition clash in Santiago
The Chilean Government has announced a series of measures taken following the UK's decision not to send General Augusto Pinochet back to Chile.
The announcement came hours after the former dictator's first London court appearance at the start of extradition proceedings brought by Spain on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism.
The most significant step is the suspension of official visits and meetings with the UK Government.
There are a number of measures of a lesser nature, including a request to airline Man Chile to suspend its weekly flight to the Falklands.
The government would "take part in the legal proceedings to challenge the ruling of the Lords", the TV said.
As General Pinochet was appearing in court, a letter written by him was read out during the National Security Council meeting in Chile in which, for the first time, he expressed regret for his rule.
General Pinochet's letter said he felt pain for people who died during his reign, although it also protested his innocence and condemned what he called a "cunning and cowardly political-judicial plot" against him.
"I am absolutely innocent of all the crimes and deeds of which they irrationally accuse me," it said.
It added that the general saw himself as a saviour who rescued Chile from the "anti-religion" of communism, and a martyr who was now willing to offer himself as a sacrifice "so that peace triumphs".
"I hope my sacrifice is the last. I hope my pain and the aggression of which I am a victim can satisfy the insatiable sentiments of revenge," the letter said.
"I accept this new cross with the humbleness of a Christian and the spirit of a soldier."
The letter also expressed regret: "I have never desired death to anybody and I feel a sincere pain for all Chileans who have lost their lives during these years."
But it added that this included soldiers, police and civilians killed at the time.
Arrests and clashes
While the letter was read out at Chile's presidential palace, supporters and opponents of Pinochet clashed in the area.
Police arrested several people as scenes outside the London court were screened live on Chilean television.
Supporters followed the transmissions in an atmosphere of frustration and rage.
"Traitors, communists, rats," they shouted when Chilean exiles appeared on screen, while Pinochet supporters were greeted with a round of applause and cheers.
Meanwhile at an association of families of the disappeared, one member pointed out that the general was being given a chance to answer charges in court - something denied to their relatives.