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Thursday, November 26, 1998 Published at 15:47 GMT


Extradite Pinochet say BBC News Online users



Users of BBC News Online who have expressed an opinion are split 2-1 in favour of Chile's General Augusto Pinochet being extradited from Britain to Spain to face trial on charges of genocide and torture.

The pinochet File
Many hundreds e-mailed the site's Talking Point feature in the hours after the UK's highest court, the House of Lords, ruled on Wednesday that the former Chilean military leader was not entitled to sovereign immunity.

The UK Home Secretary Jack Straw now has to decide whether the General will have to face extradition proceedings.

Michael and Valierie in Chile expressed the view of many in that country that the General's future should be decided in Chile. "This is a matter only for Chileans and Chilean justice to decide upon", they wrote. " We can not accept foreign intervention in our home affairs."

Manuel Farias, also writing from Chile, disagrees. "I don't believe in the justice of our country. I think it is very difficult that Pinochet's crime can be judged here. The better way for the international community is extradition," argues Manuel.

David Erickson in England writes: "People in virtually all walks of life are held accountable - under international, national or local laws - for their actions. There can be no exceptions".

A Scot living in the USA, Charlton Barreto, says Pinochet must be accountable. "This man is responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in this half of the 20th century," says Charlton, who argues the General should be extradited.

But Ray Griffin, also writing for the United States, says account should be taken of the fact that Chile helped England during the Falklands War. "The rest of South America has been looking at Chile's economic resurrection and trying to copy it. Why don't we arrest Mrs Thatcher for the Malvinas War or Bush for Somalia and Panama or Clinton for Serbia?" he asks.

Mathias Hahn writes from Sweden "that the British government has had him arrested is a disgrace and proof that the Blair government is merely a Communist mafia".

But the majority view is that the former leader should face trial in Spain. Dr. Peter Lawler, in the UK, argues that: "The Law Lords have added momentum to a slow but inexorable shift in international law against the principle of sovereign immunity .... It would be criminal , in perhaps more than the rhetorical sense, for Jack Straw to now not follow through on the decision".



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