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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Pinochet trial move blocked
General Pinochet in 2000
Pinochet is said to be suffering from dementia

Chile's appeals court has blocked a fresh attempt to force former dictator General Augusto Pinochet to stand trial for human rights abuses.

A panel of 23 judges voted 15 to eight against stripping him of his immunity from prosecution.

Human rights lawyers wanted General Pinochet to undergo new medical tests in a bid to overturn a court ruling two years ago that he was unfit to stand trial.

The latest court decision makes it unlikely the 87-year-old will ever stand trial for the disappearance of Communist Party leaders in 1976, say correspondents.

It also comes two weeks before the 30th anniversary of the 1973 military coup that brought General Pinochet to power.


During his 17-year rule, 3,000 political opponents were said to have disappeared or been killed by the military government. More than 1,000 people remain unaccounted for.

Human rights groups have long called for the former ruler to stand trial over the alleged crimes.

General Pinochet was stripped of his immunity for the first time in August 2000, in connection with allegations that he covered up the kidnappings and murders of opponents of the military regime.

But the Supreme Court in Chile later ruled he was suffering from dementia and was not fit to stand trial.

In the latest attempt, lawyers argued that the former military ruler showed he was in good mental health when he recently delivered a speech to retired generals.

Extra bodies found in Chile grave
04 Aug 03  |  Americas
Pinochet generals admit exhumations
03 Jul 03  |  Americas
Chile drops Pinochet trial
01 Jul 02  |  Americas
Court arrests Chilean general
08 Oct 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
05 Jun 03  |  Country profiles
Special report: The Pinochet file
09 Jul 01  |  The Pinochet file

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