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Thursday, October 22, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK

Viewpoint: In defence of Pinochet

Supporters of General Pinochet protesting against his arrest outside the British Embassy in Santiago

Juan Antonio Coloma from the centre-right Independent Democratic Union party has been part of a delegation of Chilean parliamentarians in London. He tells the BBC why he is pushing for the release of General Pinochet.

Pinochet's arrest is not a judicial issue. We're not going to do anything from a judicial point of view. It's absolutely a political issue.

Throughout the world, one of the most important characteristics of the nation state is that it is sovereign. One can have good or bad laws, they can be just or unjust, countries can have problems or not as the case may be. We are all different.

There are situations in England in relation to the IRA that are resolved in a certain way. The problems in Spain with the GAL [Armed Liberation Groups - death squads organised by leading figures in the previous Spanish government that targeted ETA suspects] are resolved in a certain way.

In Chile we have managed to consolidate a transition, a democratic conciliation, that has been exemplary and has cost us a great deal, through a mechanism that has functioned adequately.

Now a stone has been thrown into the wheels of this mechanism, in an attempt to affect the very essence of what it is to be a sovereign country.

Relations will 'suffer'

Lamentably, what is happening here through what is obviously a plot of the left wing in Chile, Spain and England itself, is resulting in an unprecedented international situation.

What it is fundamentally affecting is the relationship between countries. Not just between Chile and England, though this is the worst moment in the history of relations between the two countries. There is no doubt that it is also generating very serious international doubts about what it means to be a sovereign country.

Hopes for resolution

This depends on the decisions of politicians in the countries involved. The members of Judge Garzon's team are well known socialist leaders, and the same country receives Fidel Castro without any kind of complications or problems.

We await a political decision, not a pseudo-judicial one which would prejudice relations between different states.

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