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The BBC's Marysia Nowak
"He did not use the word 'responsibility'"
 real 56k

Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 12:24 GMT
Pinochet admits responsibility
General Pinochet's videotaped message
Pinochet: Videotaped birthday message
Chile's former military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, has said he accepts political responsibility for all the acts committed by the armed forces during his 17-year rule.

The general made his unprecedented statement in a videotaped message which was shown to his supporters during his 85th birthday celebrations on Friday night.


As an ex-president, I accept responsibility for all the deeds that the army and armed forces are said to have committed

General Pinochet

In the video, he described his 16 months of detention in London as very sad.

General Pinochet returned to Chile from house arrest outside London in March, after the British authorities deemed him too ill to stand trial in Spain, where a judge had requested his extradition.

He is now facing more than 170 charges in Chile for alleged human rights abuses between 1973 and 1990.

The authorities in Argentina are also seeking his extradition in connection with the killing of an exiled army general in Buenos Aires.

Suffering

General Pinochet did not attend a birthday gathering of hundreds of his supporters in Santiago.

Lucia Pinochet
Mrs Pinochet attended the birthday celebrations
In the message recorded from his home, he said doctors were not allowing him to go out in the evening following treatment for pneumonia.

Sitting beside a small Chilean flag and a photograph of his wife, General Pinochet hesitantly said: "As an ex-president, I accept responsibility for all the deeds that the army and armed forces are said to have committed."

He did not elaborate further on the matter of political responsibility.

'Disagreeable' arrest

Most of General Pinochet's birthday speech focused on his detention in London.

General Pinochet
General Pinochet returned to Chile in March
He described his arrest as very "disagreeable".

"But I had the dignity to say I was not complying with English because I had a country whose justice system was just as good."

"I suffered pains, I suffered sadness, and sirs, I suffered much sadness in my heart," he added.

Mental fitness

General Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 under a warrant issued by a Spanish judge seeking to try him for human rights abuses during his years in power.

He was released by Britain on health grounds, but returned to Chile to face a growing number of charges against him

Last August, the Chilean Supreme Court stripped him of the immunity he enjoyed as a senator for life.

But before any trial can go ahead, General Pinochet must undergo medical tests to determine if he is mentally fit.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Americas
Court orders more tests for Pinochet
25 Sep 00 | Americas
Mental health tests for Pinochet
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