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The BBC's Claire Marshall in Santiago
"The full impact of the decision is starting to sink in"
 real 56k

Chile Democratico's Carlos Reyes
"We want justice for everyone who suffered"
 real 56k

Defence lawyer Senator Marco Cariola
"It is good for the country"
 real 28k

Human rights lawyer Ernan Montealegre
"The indictment remains"
 real 28k

Monday, 9 July, 2001, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Pinochet charges suspended
Pinochet supporters
The former military ruler still has supporters in Chile
A Chilean court has suspended charges against former military ruler General Augusto Pinochet, ruling that he is too unwell to stand trial.


This is disappointing indeed but Pinochet will remain in history as having been spared from trial because he is crazy

Prosecution lawyer Carmen Hertz
The three-judge panel at the Santiago Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to suspend the legal action.

General Pinochet, aged 85, was charged as an accessory to 75 cases of politically motivated kidnapping and murder carried out at the beginning of his 1973-90 rule.

Technically, the process has been delayed until his condition improves, but given his age this is unlikely to happen.

Augusto Pinochet
Pinochet's condition is said to be stable
BBC correspondent James Reynolds says that Juan Guzman, the judge investigating the charges against the general, had previously dismissed attempts by the defence to have him declared unfit for trial.

But, he says, the panel which made Monday's decision had declared him unfit on the basis of the same report that Judge Guzman had seen.

The general's mental condition was also cited as the reason for allowing him to return home last year from Britain, where he had been detained after a request for his extradition by a judge in Spain on similar human rights charges.

Disappointment

The general's lawyer told reporters outside the courtroom that he was very satisfied with the decision.

But prosecution lawyers said they would seek a reversal of the ruling.


Once again the country is being lied to; once again, justice is not being done in our country

Viviana Diaz
One of them, Carmen Hertz, said: "This is disappointing indeed but Pinochet will remain in history as having been spared from trial because he is crazy."

Viviana Diaz, president of the Association of Relatives of Disappeared Persons, told Spanish radio the decision was "shameful" and "incredible".

"Once again the country is being lied to; once again, justice is not being done in our country," she said.

Human rights lawyers in Spain who originally sought to bring General Pinochet to court said the ruling was a blow against efforts to end his impunity.

And Amnesty International spokeswoman Virginia Shoppee said it was a shame the authorities had not been able to find answers for the victims' relatives.

'Stable condition'

On Sunday, a spokesman for General Pinochet said that he was in a stable condition two days after being discharged from hospital.

Anti-Pinochet campaigner
More than 3,000 "disappeared" during Pinochet's rule
And the general's older son, Augusto Pinochet Hiriart, said that there was no danger of his imminent death.

General Pinochet is accused of covering up dozens of killings and abductions by an army squad known as the Caravan of Death after he came to power in a coup in 1973.

His opponents say he had a clear responsibility for the slaughter, sending a close associate to head the squad. He has repeatedly denied any responsibility.

The charges are among the more than 250 complaints filed against him for alleged human rights abuses during his 17-year rule, when more than 3,000 people were executed or disappeared presumed dead.

If convicted, he could have been sentenced to up to five years in jail.

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03 Jul 01 | Americas
Opponents attack Pinochet 'ploy'
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