Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 17:30 GMT


Celebrations greet Pinochet decision

Supporters and critics cheered the Law Lords' verdict

Both opponents and supporters of General Pinochet have been celebrating victory, following the British Law Lords decision that he can face extradition proceedings.

The pinochet File
The BBC Correspondent in Chile, James Reynolds said the decision, which amounted to "a partial victory for everyone", was eventually met with jubilation from all quarters.

The country came to a standstill to follow the television transmissions from London.

Cheers, fireworks and champagne

James Reynolds in Santiago says both sides are claiming victory in the ruling
The General's supporters, who had gathered at the headquarters of the Pinochet Foundation to watch the judgement on a large screen, greeted the decision with cheers and fireworks.

They are happy with the stipulation that the former dictator should only have to answer charges stemming from crimes allegedly committed after 1988, towards the end of his 1973-1990 rule.

"The ruling is justice done. It was what we Chileans were expecting," one supporter said.

Others danced in the streets, popped champagne and waved flags, saying the decision was a victory for Pinochet, who has a lifetime senate seat because of his status as a former president.

Hugs and kisses

[ image: Pinochet's opponents in London celebrated]
Pinochet's opponents in London celebrated
At the headquarters of an association of relatives of dissidents who disappeared during Pinochet's regime,a mostly female audience exchanged hugs and kisses, many weeping, as it became clear Pinochet would not immediatey return.

The crowd leapt up in celebration when the ruling was announced.

Even though Law Lords ruled that most of the charges should be dropped, anti-Pinochet activists gathered outside the House of Lords in London were also jubilant.

"For years we've waited for this man to face the music and at last this has happened," said Ana-Maria Suarez.

Anti-General Pinochet protester celebrates: "Human rights have succeeded."
The Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman shouted, in both Spanish and English: "victory for humanity, victory for humanity" in response to the verdicts.

Long wait

It has been a long wait in Pinochet's home nation for the second ruling from the Law Lords. Nobody was willing to predict which way they would rule, and both sides held separate vigils in the hours before the announcement.

The Chilean Government is determined to maintain public order. In advance of the ruling it asked Chileans to react to the Law Lords' verdict with moderation.

President Eduardo Frei has held extensive meetings with his advisors to discuss his administration's response to the verdict, and he is expected to address the nation once he has considered the announcement from London.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

24 Mar 99 | UK
Cheers and caution greet Pinochet ruling

24 Mar 99 | The Pinochet file
Pinochet ruling - Your reaction

24 Mar 99 | World
Pinochet loses Lords case

24 Mar 99 | The Pinochet file
Q & A: Today's ruling explained

24 Mar 99 | The Pinochet file
Re-opening the wounds of the past

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named