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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 21:47 GMT
Spain orders arrest of Pinochet ally
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon
Garzon is the judge behind the efforts to prosecute Pinochet
The Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has ordered the arrest of Chile's former defence minister, Hernan Julio Brady, who served under military ruler Augusto Pinochet.

General Augusto Pinochet
General Pinochet's lawyers say he is too ill to stand trial
Judge Garzon wants to question Mr Brady in connection with the disappearance and death of the Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria in Chile during the period of military rule.

His order is opposed by the Spanish public prosecutor who maintains that the Spanish courts do not have responsibility for such an investigation, adding that there is no evidence to support the crime.

Mr Brady, whose exact whereabouts are unknown, is reported to be somewhere in Germany.

Disappearances

The Spanish diplomat, who was working for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, was abducted by the General's secret police on July 14 1976, and later murdered.

Carmelo Soria
Carmelo Soria was murdered 25 years ago
Carmelo Soria - whose status as a United Nations diplomat did not save him - was just one of over 3,000 documented disappearances under General Pinochet's rule.

Earlier this year the family of the Spanish diplomat asked for the case to be reopened in Chile.

Three years ago, Judge Garzon ordered the arrest of General Pinochet in London on charges of human right abuses relating to his 17 years in power.

His extradition to Spain was halted on health grounds and he returned to Chile, where he is now facing prosecution on similar charges.

Reduced charges

General Pinochet is charged with covering up the kidnapping and murder of more than seventy people by a military squad in 1973 -- a case known as the Caravan of Death.

Earlier this year the Court of Appeal ruled that General Pinochet should stand trial in connection with the military squad but on reduced charges.

Rather than charging the former ruler with murders and kidnappings allegedly carried out by the squad, the appeal court voted to charge him with covering up those alleged crimes.

General Pinochet's lawyers argue that any human rights abuses were carried out by his subordinates without his knowledge.

They also say the general, 85, is too frail to be tried.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Americas
Pinochet 'must face trial'
13 Feb 01 | Americas
Chile court hears Pinochet appeal
08 Feb 01 | Americas
Document 'destroys' Pinochet defence
01 Feb 01 | Americas
Pinochet under house arrest
10 Jan 01 | Americas
Finding Chile's disappeared
26 Mar 99 | World
Pinochet faces further charges
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