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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 12:38 GMT
Pinochet 'suffering from pneumonia'
Augusto Pinochet
Gen Pinochet returned to Chile from the UK in March
Chile's former military ruler General Augusto Pinochet who is facing a court appearance over alleged human rights crimes is reportedly in hospital in Santiago.

The 84-year-old general is said to be suffering from pneumonia and has been admitted to the intensive care unit at the military hospital in the Chilean capital.

The Santiago Court of Appeals is due to meet on Monday to hear a request by General Pinochet's lawyers that he be allowed to undergo medical tests to prove that his failing health prevents him from standing trial.

He is facing more than 177 criminal complaints stemming from human rights violations allegedly committed during his 17 years in power.

Immunity stripped

General Pinochet returned to Chile in March this year after being detained in London since 1998 awaiting a British decision on whether he should be extradited to Spain. The Spanish accuse him of rights abuses against their citizens.

The former ruler was recently stripped of his congressional immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for a possible trial in Chile.

A close associate of Mr Pinochet, General Guillermo Garin, told a Chilean newspaper that Mr Pinochet would remain under observation in hospital for several days.

His lawyers say he is too ill to stand trial.

He has diabetes and his lawyers say that he suffered minor strokes during his time in the UK. He also uses a pacemaker.

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