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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Court strips Pinochet of immunity
Augusto Pinochet photographed in 2003
Augusto Pinochet's family says he suffered a stroke in May
A Chilean court has stripped ex-leader Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution in a human rights case.

General Pinochet is accused of involvement in the abduction and killing of political prisoners in what was known as Operation Colombo.

His lawyers say he is innocent and are expected to appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court.

In June, a court lifted the immunity he enjoys as a former ruler to allow an inquiry into his financial affairs.

General Pinochet is accused of being involved in a Chilean secret police operation in 1975 in which more than 100 left-wing activists disappeared.

Pinochet's regime said the dissidents were killed in clashes in Argentina involving rival groups opposed to the military government.

Wednesday's hearing at the Santiago Appeals Court should have taken place in June, but was postponed after Mr Pinochet was said to have suffered a minor stroke.

Human rights campaigners have accused the general of exaggerating his health problems to try to win the sympathy of the courts.

He was also treated in hospital in May after suffering what aides said was a suspected mild stroke.

Gen Pinochet has never been put on trial for human rights violations under his 1973-90 rule, despite several high-profile cases against him.

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