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The BBC's James Reynolds in Santiago
"For the moment Juan Guzman is still in charge"
 real 56k

Chilean human rights lawyer, German Montealegre
"Now he has lost the only card that he could play"
 real 28k

Professor Benny Pollack, Liverpool University
"The armed forces of Chile are still very powerful"
 real 28k

Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 18:44 GMT
Pinochet defies court order
Juan Guzman leaves his office under police guard
Juan Guzman leaves his office under police guard
Chile's former military ruler Augusto Pinochet has failed to turn up for medical tests at a military hospital in the capital, Santiago, defying a ruling by the Supreme Court.

The tests were intended to determine if he was fit to stand trial on human rights charges.

The army has at the same time handed in reports on 200 people who disappeared under the Pinochet regime in the 1970s.

General Pinochet
General Pinochet: Unlikely to turn up for interrogation on Tuesday
The general has also been ordered to attend a session of questioning on Tuesday, but the BBC correspondent in Chile says it now seems almost certain that he will not turn up for that either.

This means that General Pinochet could now be arrested for contempt of court - though many in Santiago think that it will be some days before investiating judge Juan Guzman takes further action.

During the morning, the judge waited at the military hospital in case the general changed his mind and decided to attend.

But that did not happen and Mr Guzman will now have to sign a formal declaration saying that the medical tests did not take place.

Inquiry

General Pinochet is thought to be staying at one of his homes outside Santiago.

Protester holds banner with photos of the disappeared
Thousands disappeared during Pinochet's rule
President Ricardo Lagos is expected to address the nation later on Sunday about the findings of a human rights dialogue group which has been conducting its own inquiry into arrests and disappearances during the Pinochet era.

The group, comprising armed forces representatives, religious leaders and human rights activists has been pressing for information on more than 1,000 victims of the former military regime.

Information on some 200 disappearances was recently made available to the human rights group.

Key moment

Judge Guzman is investigating General Pinochet over the deaths or disappearance of 75 government opponents under military rule.

Augusto Pinochet's lawyers have argued that there should be a longer gap between the medical tests and the formal interrogation, so that the results of the tests can be evaluated.

But Judge Guzman said there should be no gap, and the Supreme Court has backed him up on this.

This latest dispute in the Pinochet case comes at a key moment in Chile's attempt to deal with the legacy of its years of military government.

On Saturday, time ran out on a six-month period in which the armed forces were meant to provide information on the whereabouts of 1,000 people who were killed during the Pinochet years, but whose bodies have never been found.

The information has yet to be made public, but sources say the armed forces have come up with details on the fate of between 200 and 300 people.

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Americas
Pinochet faces questioning
26 Dec 00 | Americas
Court delays Pinochet questioning
01 Dec 00 | Americas
Pinochet charged with kidnapping
02 Nov 00 | Americas
Court orders more tests for Pinochet
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