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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK
Police to fingerprint Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
The general is after all to face normal procedure
The Chilean court of appeal has ordered General Augusto Pinochet to report to police to have mug shots and fingerprints taken, ahead of his trial for alleged crimes committed during his years in power.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel means Chile's former military ruler will have to formally register as a criminal suspect with the police, a highly symbolic victory for his opponents.

The surprise decision follows the court's previous ruling - on 16 May - which delayed the order by at least 15 days.

Anti-Pinochet protesters in Santiago
The court's surprise decision is highly symbolic for Pinochet's opponents
General Pinochet is accused of being an accessory to the murder and kidnapping of 75 people in the weeks after the coup that brought him to power in September 1973.

The court of appeal said its previous decision to delay normal procedure had been a mistake.

The 85-year-old general was indicted in January and is under house arrest awaiting trial.

According to prosecuting lawyer Hugo Gutierrez, fingerprinting will take place immediately.

But General Pinochet's lawyers, who have won three delays so far, could technically lodge another appeal.

They have argued that he is too ill to face prosecution.

Shortly before the latest ruling the general was reported to have visited hospital once again, where he was treated for an episode of hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Kissinger summons

Evidence in his case is being studied by Judge Juan Guzman, who has to decide whether to formally prosecute the general or to throw the case out.

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger has been summoned to appear as a witness in the trial
Separately, it is being reported that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been called to testify in an investigation into the disappearance of five French nationals during the Pinochet dictatorship.

Mr Kissinger was served the summons while on a private visit to France.

He is under no legal obligation to answer the summons.

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See also:

15 May 01 | Americas
Pinochet assets frozen
14 May 01 | Americas
Spain orders arrest of Pinochet ally
12 Mar 01 | Americas
Pinochet 'eligible for bail'
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