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Thursday, February 4, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT

UK Politics

Pinochet hearing closes

Pinochet may learn his fate within a few weeks

The second hearing to decide whether General Augusto Pinochet is liable to stand trial in Spain for crimes against humanity committed during his military rule of Chile has finished taking evidence.

A final ruling on the general's extradition is expected within weeks.

Alun Jones QC, for the Kingdom of Spain, presented evidence to the Law Lords, including allegations that General Pinochet had plotted to kill a dissident Chilean senator during a 1975 visit to Spain.

[ image: The General's supporters protest outside Parliament]
The General's supporters protest outside Parliament
He sought to establish that Spain has jurisdiction to try General Pinochet and that the UK can extradite him without any retrospective prosecution problems.

The plot to kill Senator Carlos Altamirano was part of a wider scheme to silence opposition to his regime, which covered the whole of the former Chilean dictator's 17-year reign, Mr Jones said.

The case against the general has strongly divided Chilean and world public opinion, with his supporters and those seeking his trial demonstrating outside the House of Lords every day as the Law Lords gathered to hear evidence.

The anti-Pinochet Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "I think is going to come down on the side of extradition if only because the direction in which international law is moving is one of accepting international norms."

[ image: Jeremy Corbyn thinks Pinochet will be extradited]
Jeremy Corbyn thinks Pinochet will be extradited
He added: "In the case of the Rwanda, former Yugoslavia and Nazi Germany there has been special international legal processes, there never was in the case of Chile and Argentina and I think there is unlikely to be, but I think this may hasten the establishment of an international criminal court which was agreed to be set up last year."

The current hearing is taking place as a previous decision by five Law Lords to let extradition proceed was ruled unsafe as one of the Law Lords taking part was found to have close links to the human rights group Amnesty International.

General Pinochet was arrested in the UK last year, while receiving medical attention, at the request of the Spanish Government.

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