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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 21:18 GMT


World

Pinochet must go to Spain, says Amnesty

Pinochet's case in the Lords will continue next week

Amnesty International restated its case in the House of Lords on Thursday for the extradition of former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet to Spain to answer charges of crimes against humanity.

The pinochet File
On behalf of the London-based human rights group, lawyer professor Ian Brownlie said that with no real prospect of Pinochet being tried in Chile or any international tribunal, Spain's extradition request was "the only vehicle for the emplacement of the rule of law in these matters".

He said extradition to Spain was the only means by which Pinochet could be deprived of a "wall of impunity."

Professor Brownlie repeated arguments used by lawyers representing Spain earlier this week that Pinochet's alleged crimes could not be deemed to constitute acts carried out in exercise of the functions of a head of state.

Seven Law Lords have been in session since Monday re-hearing arguments for and against Pinochet's claim of sovereign immunity to prosecution for crimes committed between 1973 and 1990 when he was in power.

Judged too close

Pinochet's initial claim of immunity was rejected by the Law Lords on November 25.

But the ruling was thrown out and the case sent back to the Lords in December after one judge, Lord Hoffman, was found to have close links with Amnesty.

Lawyers representing Chile and gen Pinochet, 83, had not yet been heard on Thursday, and it appeared likely the proceedings would extend into next week.

Professor Brownlie said on Thursday that Gen Pinochet had pushed through iron-clad laws protecting him from prosecution in Chile.

If that protection was ever lifted, said the lawyer, the best that could be hoped for would be a trial before a military tribunal, presumably sympathetic to the general.

He said: "The Chilean constitution which ... Pinochet was instrumental in drafting included a system of senators for life, who have complete immunity under Chilean law."

Amnesty was also expected to argue that, according to a historical perspective of international law, crimes against humanity are not covered by immunity, an argument that persuaded the Law Lords the first time around.





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