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Friday, June 4, 1999 Published at 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK


Pinochet hearing date set

The charges related to the time General Pinochet ruled Chile

Extradition hearings against former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet will begin on 27 September, a judge has ruled.

Judge Graham Parkinson set the date at Bow Street magistrate court before lawyers for General Pinochet and the UK Home Office.

The process of determining whether the 83-year-old Chilean senator should be extradited to Spain to face human rights charges could take months.

The committal hearing marking the start of the process is scheduled to last for five days.

Judge Parkinson also ruled that the charges against General Pinochet should be finalised by 31 August and any queries by the defence should be lodged by 14 September.

He said: "As far as the extradition proceedings are concerned I take the view that we need to know the exact boundaries of this application."

[ image: Judge Baltasar Garzon: Started the extradition process]
Judge Baltasar Garzon: Started the extradition process
The latest move follows a series of attempts to stop the case by General Pinochet's lawyers, and two rulings by Home Secretary Jack Straw.

The former dictator's lawyers last week failed to win the right to challenge the latest ruling by Mr Straw that the extradition proceedings should go ahead.

British police first arrest General Pinochet in October acting on an arrest warrant issued by Spain's Judge Baltasar Garzon.

He has remained under house arrest in Surrey since, although he is now believed to be suffering new health problems.

The charges against General Pinochet relate to alleged crimes carried out during the period of 1973 to 1990 when he ruled Chile.

He has denied the allegations, calling them "the lies of Spain".

His lawyers argue the extradition case should be rejected as Spain has no jurisdiction over Chile and the crimes could be heard in that country.

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