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The BBC's James Reynolds
"Augusto Pinochet finds himself charged with more than 70 murders and abductions"
 real 56k

Hernan Montealegre, Human Rights lawyer
"The judge thinks... Pinochet is perfectly mentally fit to stand trial"
 real 56k

Juan Pablo Letelier, anti Pinochet campaigner
"My father was assassinated by the dictatorship"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 00:49 GMT
Pinochet arrest ordered
Pinochet opponents cheer news of the arrest order
Pinochet opponents cheered news of the trial
A judge in Chile has reissued an order for the arrest of the country's former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, in connection with alleged human rights abuses committed during his time in power.

We are very pleased to know Pinochet has been ordered to face the courts for these homicides

Prosecution lawyer Hugo Gutierrez
Chilean court sources said Judge Juan Guzman had charged the general with masterminding 57 murders and 18 kidnappings of political opponents carried out by a 1973 military hit squad called the "Caravan of Death".

Judge Guzman, who has been investigating General Pinochet for over three years, declined comment other than to confirm that he had signed and filed the charge sheet at a Santiago court.

The news was greeted with cheers from relatives of some of the victims who had gathered outside the Santiago court.

"We are very pleased to know Pinochet has been ordered to face the courts for these homicides," said human rights lawyer Hugo Gutierrez.


Lawyers representing the former military ruler say they will submit a request to the Santiago Court of Appeal on Tuesday asking for the arrest warrant to be suspended.

Pinochet, seen here in December
Relatives say General Pinochet is in poor health
However, if their motion fails, police are expected to visit General Pinochet's home to notify him of his house arrest.

By law, he will also have to have to be fingerprinted and photographed for police files.

The BBC's James Reynolds says human rights campaigners view this as a powerful symbol that Augusto Pinochet is a criminal and will be now be treated as such by the law.

Mr Guzman first ordered the arrest and indictment two months ago, but the Supreme Court overturned the ruling because he had failed to interrogate the general before ordering his arrest.

That interrogation took place last week, clearing the way for the arrest order to be reissued.

Ailing health

General Pinochet's lawyers say they will also submit a seperate appeal against the legality of Judge Guzman's arrest and indictment warrant.

Judge Guzman
Judge Guzman finally questioned the general last week
They are expected to argue that the 85-year old general is too ill to be tried and that the case against him is politically motivated and should be thrown out.

Our correspondent says Chilean legal experts believe they face a difficult task, and few expect either appeal to suceed.

The general himself has long maintained his innocence of the charges, which relate to the deaths, kidnappings or "disappearances" of more than 3,000 people during his 17 years in office.

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | Americas
Lawyers seek Pinochet indictment
23 Jan 01 | Americas
Judge questions Pinochet
13 Jan 01 | Americas
Doctors conclude Pinochet medical
10 Jan 01 | Americas
Finding Chile's disappeared
07 Jan 01 | Americas
Pinochet defies court order
01 Dec 00 | Americas
Pinochet charged with kidnapping
08 Jan 01 | Americas
Chile hears about military's victims
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