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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 11:25 GMT
Pinochet: Should he be allowed home?
UK Home Secretary Jack Straw has accepted medical advice that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet is unfit to stand trial in Spain for torture.
Is the home secretary right to accept medical opinion, or should General Pinochet still be extradited?
It is unfortunate that the real politics seems again to be taking precedence over justice, but the controversy itself has been very beneficial in raising issues and exhuming a past which should not be disregarded.
I believe that Pinochet should be
put on trial for crimes against
Crimes are not normal crimes. There
is no statute of limitation on crimes
against humanity! Old age or health
problems should not allow such
monsters to escape justice.
If Pinochet's health is in bad shape,
then he can be provided with the
utmost in health care during his trial.
His health condition or old age may
be grounds for their not serving
their sentence, but definitely not
for his escaping justice.
Pinochet's state of health is irrelevant when one considers the gravity of the crimes he committed against his opponents.
Just occasionally the powerful who give orders must be made to answer for their crimes. Not only the lower ranks who obey orders.
Ill health is just a pretext to let this evil dictator off the hook
Of course, Pinochet should be allowed to return to Chile. The matter simply is not the business of Spain or Great Britain. Spain, which has conveniently overlooked whatever may have happened during the Franco era, which won't take Fidel Castro to task for his ongoing despotism, is in a particularly weak position on the matter. Amazing that the blatent colonialism of the Spanish maneuvers hasn't come in for more criticism.
Jack Straw has struck a blow to the cause of human rights. He went out of his way to accommodate Pinochet including striking a deal regarding medical privacy which could only benefit Pinochet. The only thing more disgraceful was the sight of the lady Conservative MP making political capital in Parliament and reducing a situation full of historic implications to a party tit-for-tat.
Only Chile and the Chileans have the right to judge Pinochet, it is an internal problem, no other country has the right to do it. It is the right decision, now it is up to the Chileans judge him.
While Pinochet is still alive, whether ill or not, able to go through a court hearing or not, he should go back to Chile and face his people. The truth about thousands of 'unusual' deaths under his dictatorship cannot be ignored. There are human rights involved in this case. It would be fair for both and just (for both sides) for him to go back and face this ordeal.
I'm sure there are Nazi war criminals who were older and/or less mentally capable than General Pinochet when they were brought to trial...and if he has nothing to hide and is such an 'honourable' man, why won't he just agree to stand trial?
I am puzzled by Mr Straw's waiting a week for various groups to make known their views. Either these representations could change the decision to let the General go, or this pause is a hollow gesture. Since several European countries have expressed their opposition to the present stance of the British government, is there any real possibility of their having any impact on what happens?
I had to leave my country Colombia due to the economic crisis, the guerrilla warfare, and the control of drug lords. Pinochet during his dictatorship got rid of all these problems in neighbouring Chile, and made it one of the best countries to live in South America. I think Pinochet did more good, than bad. I wish we had someone in Colombia we the guts of Pinochet.
He is still a danger because he is an example (whether this is legal,
political, right or wrong, sane or not, ill or not, with back problems or
not doesn't matter, the fact is he is an example) to other people like him
who take power through violence. This is happening right now in parts of
the world. Shall we try to slow this or shall we let them go without even a
trial? Will someone in your family disappear and be tortured next year or
will the dictator apply the brakes a little because he knows he might also
be old someday and might want to visit a hospital in another country for
treatment etc. If a dictator feels that we are watching, maybe a couple
more lives will be saved -- maybe someone in your family.
While the British Government continues to release psychopaths in Northern Ireland - those who have butchered men, women and children without remorse, to general international applause, I find it hard to take this outrage seriously. What about the human rights of the thousands of innocent civilians and members of the security forces murdered by sectarian terrorists? I won't hold my breath.......
We need to know exactly what do they mean by "not fit for trial".
As far as we can see him, he can think, he can talk and he can walk and this is far more enough to be fit for trial. This disgusting statement "not fit for trial" is a slap on the face of justice and human rights.
I agree with the position of Mr Straw. It took too long. We're having presidential elections today in our country and you can se we're in a well established democracy and I think we're mature enough to make our own judgements for our political life in our country.
Even though there may be medical evidence suggesting that he is not fit to stand trail, there may be greater good brought to both the famillies of the victimes and the body-politic of a demoractic Chile if a trail takes place. In Spain or Chile itself.
If this is the case I feel that it is difficult to accept an undisclosed medical opion indicating not to proceed with a trail.
It is really a matter of transparency. My points fall really into two parts.
The British home secretary was asked to decide if Pinochet was fit enough to be extradited.
The second matter is a question of approach or style. For justice to be done, it must be seen to be done. The home secretary has a prerogative on having the last say on extradition. At the same time his decisions must be transparent.
I wonder if the same people would have the same opinons, if it was Che Guvara on trial.
Does it make any real difference if a sick old
man goes home anyway? He is dying.
Quite the contrary of General Pinochet "getting away with it", as some of
your callers suggest, the eyes of the world have been on this man for the
last 18 months as a constant reminder of the atrocities carried out under
his administration. Surely now we can show some humanity to a sick and
elderly man by returning him to Chile and indicate thereby that there are
other ways of dealing with difficult problems.
Won't it harder to reach the truth the longer investigation is delayed? I don't think the public trust claims of Pinochet's ill health and might not his health be more of factor in sentencing if he was found guilty. If he's innocent, wouldn't he want to clear his name?
Why talk about health matters? If Gen. Pinochet is to be tried, then there should be a post mortem trial of Dr. Allende, who led Chile towards a communist regime. Dr. Allende was openly communist and a friend of Fidel Castro. He infiltrated 25,000 marxist terrorists and guerrilleros to make a coup. Ten of tons of guns and explosives were shipped to his residences as "works of art". Just read the Chilean press of the time.
Dr. Allende was repeatedly condemned by the Chilean constitutional court. Just weeks before Gen. pinochet's coup, the Chilean parliament solemly appealed for law and order to be restored in the face of the rampant dictatorship of Dr. Allende and called on the armed forces to act as last-resort protectors of the constitution.
If a German general had overtrown elected chancellor Hitler, would you have called for
him to be tried? Matters of health are hardly relevant here.
Did Pinochet bother whether the people that were arrested as a consequence of orders issued by his government. were fit to be taken to jail, to be tortured, killed, disappear, their children given to members of his regime for adoption ?
If Egon Krenz and other Germans both Nazi and Communist, Serb warlords, are still being punished, why should Pinochet and others be treated differently?
Let Pinochet feel at least once in his life what thousands had to feel also against their will, send him to Spain!
NO, I am not Chilean, German, Spanish...BUT I like to call a spade a spade...
I feel that Mr Straw has ruined what has been an impeccable performance from the British government in this case in so much as they have gone out of their way to show their impartiality. I feel at the end of the process what Mr Straw should have done is open up the medical report to physicians from the different parties and make certain elements of the report known at least to the parties themselves or the public at large.
There was a time inside our nations, when if a woman, and children were
being beaten inside their homes... that we thought of it as none of our
business, and the perogative of the leader of that household. We have
It is time that we did legally intervene in the legal affairs of pariah
nations when their people are being massacred.
If Hitler were alive today, but sick and ailing, like Pinochet, would
he have been " spared "? This is double standards and the meritocracy scratching the
back of the meritocracy.
Having been to witness to some of the atrocities that were carried out - not personally, but having seen photographs and reports coming in from Chile when I did some voluntary work for Amnesty International some years ago, I was personally disgusted by what was going on. It was hard to believe that a legally elected government could be over thrown by a general who then went on to imprison his opponents, butcher them and take them out in aircraft and throw them out alive over the sea. To say that this man hasn't to stand to answer for them on the grounds of ill health is absolutely terrible.
Britain is a terrorist now with the release of Pinochet. Britain should stop crying about human rights in other lands.
I hope that Jack Straw does not listen to the comments of the human rights groups because General Pinochet should be allowed to return home to Chile. It is up to the Chilean authorities as to what they do to the General, not a British Home Secretary or a Spanish judge. Send this friend of Britain, who is old and frail back home as soon as possible.
It is interesting that while Jack Straw is prepared to let General Pinochet
leave the UK for Chile untried, he is also prepared to let boxer Mike
Tyson, a convicted rapist who makes vast amounts of money by violence
against others, enter the UK in the "interest of businesses in the UK".
What standards is Mr Straw working by? Do we allow vicious criminals
"into" Britain and yet let those against whom there is serious evidence
"out", because the General "may not be up to a trial"? Were his victims up
to their own torture and deaths?
Allende had been democratically elected. However, was he not a Marxist who exploited the coalition of parties which got him elected to radicalise the Chilean economy to centrally planned socialism? Was there not a disastrous collectivisation of agriculture? Was there not runaway inflation which was designed in part to reduce the compensation paid to the former owners of the locally nationalised industries? Was there not nationalisation without any compensation of US economic interests? Was there not, in the end, a state of civil war? And did not Allende bring in a Cuban army to fight the Chilean opposition?
Did not Pinochet turn Chile into the most successful market economy in S. America?
It is amazing to see the so called human rights groups bent on prosecuting a sick
old man to ensure that he dies in jail while at the same time fighting for the
release of criminals from duly awarded death sentences. Something seems horribly
wrong with this picture.
Here in the US, England's pursuit of Pinochet seems more motivated by
politics than justice. Castro shot his enemies in a soccer stadium, continues
to rule Cuba as dictator, but is welcome to visit the UK as a liberal icon.
Only Pinochet, a right winger who exchanged dictatorship for immunity, is
snatched by Tony Blair's liberal government when he visits for medical
treatment. Pinochet is no hero, but compared to England's coddling of
Castro, he certainly appears to be the victim of selective justice.
So, Jack Straw says General Pinochet is a sick man. Tell us something we
didn't already know. And perhaps he should remember that making awkward situations just
"disappear" was also Pinochet's favourite tactic.
The issue of fitness to stand trial is based on well-tried, justiciable criteria. In all modern legal systems, it is a status which is determined judicially, following a formal and public hearing of evidence received under oath. There is no need for political intervention, as the judicial process provides substantive and procedural protection for those, in law, unfit.
Arkan and Pinochet: birds of a feather. The Chileans want Pinochet back so that they can sweep all of his crimes under the proverbial rug. Send the monster to Spain for trial.
The military plane that is likely to take Pinochet home to Chile has to make a required fuel stop. Because new international arrest warrants are likely to be issued, it is of great importance where the plane will stop for refuelling. Chilean media reports that secret plans are made to land the plane in Bermuda, because British law applies there!! So it seems the whole world is hunting a mass murderer but Britain is offering him immunity from prosecution by allowing him to land in Bermuda!! Please Jack don't pretend it is a non-political decision.
It is a scandal to even debate about whether Pinochet should simply answer questions about the atrocities he committed as head of state.
I cannot understand all this sentimentality about ill health, especially about someone whose use of power had no room for such sentimentality when he dealt with those he perceived as opponents.
The present turn of events, since Britain first failed to bundle him up to Spain and the very fact that we are having this discussion, is all a travesty of justice.
As there are serious charges against Sgr Pinochet, there should be full disclosure of all relevant information, to all interested parties, including medical records, in arriving at a decision.
Sgr Pinochet has already compromised his privacy by making available his medical records to the British government. There is, therefore, no intrusion into his privacy if this medical information is also shared with others having an interest in this case. Neither the British media nor the British government nor the British medical establishment seem to respect Ms Myra Hindley's privacy.
Once again, the United Kingdom is faced with a choice - to let a suspected international human rights criminal go free, or to start the ball rolling in his prosecution. Is this the beginning of a dangerous precedent ?
General Pinochet should be tried for the crimes of which he stands accused so that he can be vindicated or condemned. It is not clear that Spain or Britain or any one nation should take on the burden of judgement when it appears that the accuser is really the international (Western) community of peoples. Where is international justice in this process?
If General Pinochet is allowed to Chile he will almost certainly escape justice. It seemed convenient for Jack Straw and the government that the legal issues rolled along while threats of war crime tribunals were made against Slobodan Milosovic.
It appears that British justice may be "the best that money can buy" but it is now time to let Spanish justice decide.
The decision not to divulge the medical record of Pinochet to Spanish physicians puzzles me. Is it because the general is no longer able to comprehend what is said in a court case? Is it a trial balloon to see what worldwide reaction will be? The lack of a public trial prevents world citizens and certainly the victims of repression to discover the truth about the general's role in untold suffering. The decision leaves the quest for human rights unresolved and thus utterly painful for those concerned.
I am favourable to the indictment and trial of general Pinochet on one condition: That he and the other living dictators, communist and non communist, in power or not, who have allegedly committed crimes against humanity, be indicted and possibly brought to justice to an international court of justice recognised at least by the majority of democratic countries, say the Hague's court. This in my opinion would serve justice and deter state terror.
I am extremely disappointed by Mr. Straw´s decision to let Pinochet go free. I think that it is utterly absurd that Pinochet should be allowed to avoid trial simply because of his health. The well documented attrocities committed under his command in Chile are an affront to international justice and human rights, and must be addressed, whether Pinochet is ultimately convicted or not. It is well known that upon his return to Chile, Pinochet is extremely unlikely to face justice.
Crime is crime and any criminal should definitely pay for his crime regardless of his/her age or health. We all know that those notorious dictators committed ruthless crimes against humanity and subsequently they should not expect any mercy. Thousands were tortured and murdered .I profoundly stand on the opinion that Pinochet should be extradited to Chile - not to Spain -to be judged by his crimes because he committed his mass crimes in Chile. I think it is outrageous to free this dreadful dictator for humanitarian reasons. It is not a matter of revenge but I want humanity to couch a deterrent message to all dictators that they may be prosecuted one day
If he's not up to facing a short flight to Spain and then a presumably comfortable time there (assuming his wealthy supporters are allowed to rent him another mansion) how is he fit enough to undertake a flight to Chile in a military aircraft, with all the creature comforts that ensues? Come on Jack, publish the medical evidence, or let the Spanish doctors have a look at him.
The lawyers for Pinochet questioned the independence of the British Judges when they first decided against Pinochet returning to Chile. Perhaps now its the turn of the Spanish Lawyer to question the independence of the doctors who find Pinochet too ill to go to trial. Maybe they have financial interests in Chile, who knows.
Also, how come the British public can be presented with medical facts pertaining to Cherie Blair's choice of birthing - a real betrayal of medical etiquette but cannot be witness to facts which really are a matter of public interest.
I firmly believe that Pinochet should be extradited because the murder and torture of even one European is a matter concerning European countries and not Chile.
Furthermore, he is of obvious sound mind and his physical state is NOT relevant, as it has not been for other war criminals in the past. He is obviously fit enough to endure the long journey back to Chile, why is he then not fit enough to be tried? The trial (or not) of this obvious criminal is a matter for the European countries seeking his extradition and not for the British government, whose only participation in this scenario is to decide whether there is a case for Pinochet to answer. Let the courts of relevant European countries decide.
Chileans and all the other nationals who suffered under Pinochet's regime need to know what happened to their friends and loved ones and this man holds the key to open that door. That is the purpose, Mr. Straw.
Maybe, if he returns to Chile, he will be brought to account. But I seriously doubt it. And I agree with other writers here who have expressed dismay at the timing-just days before a VERY close election.
I don't get it: Mr Straw ruled that Pinochet can't be extradited to Spain to stand trial because of his health. His secret medical record is also known by the Chilean government but they assured us that G Pinochet will stand trial in Chile!! If he's too ill to stand trial in Spain, he is too ill to stand trial in Chile. I am puzzled by this logic. Anyone else?
Without releasing the details of his medical condition it is hard to make any valued judgement, but it seems that the UK is trying to back out gracefully. Pinochet should be sent to Spain and Spain can then decide if he is fit to stand trial. As already mentioned, if he can get to Chile, he can get to Spain. The UK is going soft just when there was a chance to progress international human rights. Clearly as the Tyson case suggests, there is not one set of rules for all...
It astonishes me that so many people seem to think it is up to the Chileans to try Pinochet. Not only is this plainly wrong as a matter of law, it also betrays an ignorance of Chile's constitution, which effectively meant that he could never be tried. The Frei government has now committed itself to trying him, that would not have happened before he was arrested here. It may well not be possible even now.
All I can add is that Pinochet is a Chilean citizen. The rest of the world has no business telling Chile what to do. If Pinochet had been able to get the treatment for which he came to the U.K. in the first place, in Chile itself, all this hullabaloo would not have happened. If we want to talk about crimes against humanity, why is it that the British government allows the terrorist Tamil Tigers movement of Sri Lanka to raise money in the U.K. to fight a legitimately elected government in Sri Lanka. You can't have it both ways, you know. Either you're against humanity or you're not...Mr. Blair, there is no THIRD WAY !!!
Ana Gonzalo, Belgium
I was a political prisoner of this monster. He never cared for those people that were much older than him then. I personally witnessed the treatment that was given to them. There was never mercy or anything else to alleviate their suffering. I was young - 17 - and there was no mercy for me. Now once more the Britons screw up.
This is Chile's affair, not the rest of the world's. And Spain's claim that they are doing justice for their Spanish citizens killed is ludicrous because when foreign citizens are in another country they do not receive treatment any different from citizens of the country in which they are in, unless they hold diplomatic visas.
To those who'd say this was
interfering in other nation's business,
I'd say "Good! It's about time that
nations realised they were no longer
relevant. A bit less nationalism, and
a bit more understanding, and the
world would be a better place to live.
And if you're using the Internet to
read this, shame on you for not
practising what you preach. Next
time, get each packet of information
stamped at the passport desk before
you cross the border, or shut up
about national sovereignty."
Brian Burke, England
James Scobbie, Chile
Pinochet should be extradited, tried and imprisoned. It doesn't matter how socialist the government he overthrew was (with CIA help); he is a merciless, totalitarian torturer who should be made to face his crimes. Illness is no excuse to avoid justice.
From now on, ALL murderers who
have an illness or who escape
justice until they are over 80
should be let off!
What a ridiculous decision!
And for all those who say that the
UK should not meddle in Chile's
affairs, I say "We live in a world
in which human rights (should) have
no boundaries - but thanks to the
likes of Norman Lamont and Thatcher,
boundaries to justice still exist,
(and to think I actually once voted
for them once!)
Too ill to fly to Spain...Chile is much closer!
Let's be fair. Thousands of Chileans were killed under Pinochet's brutal dictatorship. Just think about all those families who lost their loved ones under his regime. Don't give Pinochet any chance to evade justice.
There seems to be something wrong in British judicial procedure where the health of a suspect is concerned. After years of weighing various judicial aspects of the case against the suspect Mr Pinochet from Chile, all of a sudden it seems possible that the suspect can be freed on the judgement of some medical doctors. Strange that it seems possible that Mr Pinochet seems to be able to withhold this medical report from further scrutiny. Strange that all of a sudden the Home Secretary can decide all alone on Mr Pinochet's release on the basis of this obscure report.
But well, if the suspect Mr Pinochet goes back to his home country, he will be judged there. And it is a good thing that Chile seems to have thrown off its fear of judging this suspect. In Chile Mr Pinochet will have to stand trial without his patroness Mrs Th. watching over him.
Let an old man return to his own country and face trial there if necessary- after all it is all about Chile. Again, let's concentrate time and resources to bringing our own criminals to justice- a more fruitful exercise for the UK.
If he is not too ill to go home, then he
is not too ill to go to Spain. You don't
release suspected serial killers because
they are ill, so why release a suspected
mass murderer. Let the Spanish court
determine his guilt or innocence. Spain
is not an uncivilised country. I'm sure
he will receive a fair trial - especially
with the whole world watching. If he
is guilty, as I believe he is, then the
world needs to know that dictators
cannot get away with murdering their
Leopoldo Flores, Chile
Funny but Pinochet never cared for the health of young and old he tortured and killed, did he?
A lesson needs to be taught here. No one should be allowed to get away with any sort of human rights violations regardless of what legal codes say. Pinochet should not be allowed to go back to Chile because the Chilean probably won't prosecute him. He needs to be punished for the injustices he committed to the Chilean people and to foreigners in Chile during this dictatorship. An international court of justice should at least try him. No democracy should harbour evil tyrants.
We can be certain that we are not being told the real reasons for this move.
Pinochet's ailments were most likely present when he was arrested over a year ago and those were not an impediment back then.
Mr. Straw's hesitation makes his seriousness very questionable.
Here in Canada we have received hundreds of Chilean refugees from Pinochet's form of government. Victims all.
Cyrus Medora, United Kingdom
The Chilean Government has taken advantage of Chileans' extreme and pathetic nationalism to sell them the idea that defending the dictator was equated to defending Chilean "sovereignty". Fortunately, the world outside Chile keeps moving in the direction of higher ethical and human values. The decision not to extradite Pinochet is, admitedly, a setback in this movement. But now is the time to keep a close watch on Chile: will Pinochet be put to trial, as the top Chilean Government officials have cynically and publicly pretended that he would when in Chile?
Pinochet is unfit to stand trial, is what I heard. My God, tell Jack Straw that when P. cannot stand trial, by all means he should SIT or eve LIE trial. If he is to ill to travel to Spain, he certainly cannot travel to Chile. Years ago we had in our country the ominous 'three of Breda'. One of them, Willy Lages, was said to be too ill to stay in prison and subsequently was released to Germany. There he was received as a hero and a martyr. His health was miraculously restored. Is this what must happen to Pinochet? Never!
Miland Joshi, UK
Pinochet is responsible for many deaths. He tortured and maimed, had opponents thrown out of planes. A friend's fiancee was hung upside down and beaten to death. Another friend of mine was abducted and tortured for 40 days. Neither were dangerous activists but ordinary people. In answer to 'Dave of Bournemouth' Melita Norwood did not torture & murder anyone, and was perfectly prepared to stand trial.
Pinochet is an evil and odious barbarian who should stand trial. However if he is mentally unfit, we should not try him. To do so would be a breach of Human rights. However, I am not convinced that he is senile. I suspect shades of Ernest Guinness. I think that the Spanish Authorities should have the opportunity to have their own doctors to examine him. Spain is now a civilised democracy and has similar standards of Justice to the UK, and many of their citizens were tortured and murdered by Pinochet's regime. They should have the right to decide whether to try Pinochet.
If sombody is too ill or too old to stand prison, I'm all for home arrest, or even freedom. But I see no reason why he or she should not be tried, and I certainly don't see why they should not be extradited. The UK set a great example of civil decency arresting that monster. If it lets him go, on what look suspiciously like grounds of political opportunity, it will be a shame.
F. B. Antunez, Chile
I am a Chilean living here in the UK. This whole deal does not surprise anyone. Pinochet still has strong support in Chile. It is sad to see Britain having to deal with Pinochet when this is a matter for Chileans only. Spain has no right over any South American country, colonialism and paternalism have no place and will never have in Chile.
Anna Henrika Harkko, Chile
Would the Home Office have let Hitler go free based on the same grounds? The only grim difference between Pinochet and Hitler is that the latter killed more innocent people than Pinochet.
With all the letters of my name I stand on the opinion that Pinochet should extradited to Spain to be judged by his crimes, not to say if he`s healthy enough. How many people does he have to assist him and how many people assist those who were tortured for years?
Kieran Maule, Mexico
General Pinochet supported this country during the Falklands War. Melita Norwood betrayed it during World War 2. Both are of similar age, both guilty of causing many deaths. A left-wing government in the UK arrests one when it has no interest in the case but leaves the other in peace even though she sold out her own country, the country that the present government is supposed to defend. The reason is perfectly clear. Ideologically this government agrees with treason when helping out a left-wing dictatorship but despises brutality when practiced by a right-wing dictatorship in difficult and unfamiliar circumstances. Shame on all of Blair's puppets.
Mr Shaw took a very brave decision,
defying as he did the prevailing attitude
hostile to Mr. Pinochet. I believe he should be
tried for the crimes he committed but many
world leaders, past and present, should also
face an International tribunal for violating
human rights the world all over.
The decision of British doctors should not be
taken as a basis to determine
the fate of Pinochet, one of 20th century's worst
human rights violators. Instead, an international
panel of physicians must be assigned to
review the decision. Before that, physicians, and
and international human rights experts
should come to a consensus about what
is the minimum health condition for someone
to stand in genocide trials. What if physicians,
on their own, decide, that having a flu may
already be too much?
For whatever reason Mr Straw has come to his decision it couldn't have come at a worse time for democracy in Chile; This weekend Chileans must vote for their next government, it is between a Pinochet supporter called Lavin and a socialist, Ricardo Lagos. Since Pinochet allegedly relinquished power all elections in Chile have gone the way of right wing Pinochet supporters. When I was in Chile six months ago rumours were circulating about the possibility of another coup should the socialists return to power, sending Pinochet back now will give credence to the rumour makers, not to mention the publicity gains for the right wing.
He should have been home all this time.
There should definitely be an upper age limit when you can still charge people who are suspected for old crimes. Or do we believe that an 84 year old ex. President of a country is still acute danger to us? Or do we believe an 86 year old person who was part of a political movement and possibly did what he was told to do is an acute danger. I think the one who believes is an acute danger to his/hers mental shape.
Disgraced Guinness boss Ernest Saunders got out of jail by having Alzheimer's disease. He miraculously recovered.
It'll be interesting if poor old Augusto gains a spring in his step when he returns to Chile.
If he is too ill to stand trial, he is too ill to stand trial.
Pinochet should not get off so lightly on the pretence that his health is failing. This does not atone for his crimes and murders. He is guilty and must be punished under the law. Send him to Spain to be tried. Chile never had the guts to confront Pinochet before Spain took action.
Gervas Douglas, UK
Why doesn't Mr. Straw come clean and give the real reasons for Pinochet's release? The fact, to Britain's eternal shame, is that we supported his regime, at first covertly and then overtly. We helped train his army, and helped to equip it too, we supported him economically and then politically. Perhaps Mr Straw is simply displaying that British trait of not betraying a friend. It must also be the first time ever that Lady Thatcher has been in total agreement with this Labour government. In light of the many and various atrocities around the world since 1973 it seems a great discredit to the victims that their murders are forgotten or at best irrelevant.
It seems ironic that Pinochet will escape being put on trial by using the in built compassion of our legal system, when he denied so many people their basic human rights.
Matthias Gildemeister, Germany
This decision is long overdue. Pinochet left his country in far better shape than when he took over, unlike his predecessor Allende. He also provided vital assistance to our forces during the Falklands War, thereby saving British lives. If he committed any crimes in Chile, it is for the Chileans to try him; it is not our business to be the World's policeman.
Pinochet's lawyers have never said that the General denies any of the charges against him, instead they dance between the lines of the law to get him to safety in Chile. There is no excuse for genocide.
The UK Government has messed up over Pinochet from day one. When the extradition order first arrived during Pinochet's visit, he should have been sent packing using the wide discretion of the Home Secretary. Yes, Pinochet was a brutal dictator, but it was always up to Chile how the matter was dealt with. The way we have handled this affair is a gross insult to Chilean sovereignty.
We decide that Milosevic should be punished and that Radic and the others from Bosnia should be hunted. We go to war against Saddam. In all these cases we have risked the lives of our own people in the interests of peace, democracy, freedom etc. Now we are willing to sacrifice these "high" principles by letting this man go free without being held accountable for his actions. This is surely something to do with the hidden extreme right-wing in Britain, members of which secretly continue to exercise huge influence and power over the establishment of the country.
Keith Stuart, England
So much for the freedom of information. Here we have a situation where there is no doubt that it is in the public interest that the details surrounding the considered opinions of the doctors concerning the health of Chilean dictator Pinochet should be released. The fact that they are not and the agreement put forward that to do so slights the eminence of such physicians is a scandal. We must remember in response that 'men of straw' don't have minds when asked to make decisions they simply wash their hands of them. Margaret Thatcher must be proud of this UK Home Secretary.
So he's too ill to go on trial. Wonderful.
What about all those who were murdered
by his regime? I hope the Spanish
try him in his absence.
The doctors have no right to supply Jack Straw with more than objective information on Pinochet's condition. They cannot declare unequivocally that he is unfit to stand trial. If I claim that unless he is completely senile, it is morally imperative to admit Pinochet, that is an ethical view that does not admit of scientific refutation. It ought to be for the Spanish courts to decide.
Ill or not, why are we still footing the enormous bill for harbouring this butcher. If he is too 'ill' to 'stand' trial, then let him be tried in his absence.
How typical of the whinging leftists. You didn't hear any complaints from them when Melita Norwood was declared to be unfit for trial.
Let the General go home to Chile. It is up to the Chileans to deal with him.
The arrest of Pinochet and institution of extradition proceedings have had amazing and beneficial repercussions - throughout the world, ex-dictators and war criminals are now afraid to travel. Contrary to what Pinochet's supporters say, the arrest has brought great credit to the British justice system and to the Home Secretary personally for the way the case has been handled.
When someone who has committed many crimes is available to trial - you should trial him, regardless of health. It sets an example of what can happen if you do such bad things. If Hitler was around now - wouldn't you trial him?
It may be a naive thing to say, but did the 'Senator' take into account the medical history of any of his victims?
Mel Huang, Estonia
Why should it be our decision about whether Pinochet is to ill to stand trial? Why don't we extradite him to Spain and let them make any medical decisions?
Otherwise I see this as being yet another failure of our modern legal system - if you are rich enough and old enough you can get away you can get away with anything!!
Yet again our Government has bent the rules to
suit its own requirements. Regardless of whether he
is ill or not, he should stand trial. But the decision is
nothing new, after all, we release terrorists who torture
and murder, we jail a celebrity for only a few weeks for being
a paedophile and we allow a spy to get away with
total betrayal of her country even though her actions may
well have cost the lives of dozens if not hundreds of people.
What next? Liam Neeson for mayor of London perhaps.
It seems to be the British way.
Simon Robinson, England
Why doesn't Europe leave Chile's affairs to the Chileans and deal with their own problems such as Swiss banks, ETA and the IRA? Chile can determine its own course and we don't need Spain to mitigate in our problems. Europe should not interfere in Latin America's problems.
Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, terrorised Chile and murdered more than 3,000 innocent people. He is a fascist thug who deserves no mercy. Extradite him to Spain and bring this murderer to trial!
James Sinden, New Zealand
The home secretary is correct to release Pinochet; however, he never should have been detained to begin with. Chile has made a relatively peaceful transition to prosperity and democracy. It was Allende's Socialist Party which declared in 1971 that the task at hand was "to destroy parliament" and that Allende himself was seriously considering arming leftist guerrillas. At the time of the coup in 1973 Chile had by far the highest inflation in the world. In short, the Allende regime had single-handedly destroyed the social and economic order of his country and was planning his own left wing coup. Only the most troglodyte foreign leftists mourn his passing. Would the supporters of trial for Pinochet in Spain be as ardent if it were Castro who was to be called to the dock in America for his crimes?
Almost all heads of state recieve the best medical care in the world. To say that Pinochet is too ill to stand trial is blatant arrogance towards the families of thousands of the disappeared people in Chile. He does not have to be in court, but let him be tried for his crimes against humanity.
Pinochet has to go back to Chile. Not because he is unfit to stand trial, but because this person commited crimes in Chile, not in Spain. But he must stand trial in Chile. The point is that South American states have to assume their responsibilities and let the world know that they are mature and can cope with their key problems. Is the Chilean state capable of managing this? I hope so.
It simply is not a decision for the English to make. Unless he is too sick to travel, which I doubt, it is the Spanish who will try him - let them decide if he is to take the stand. All the English have to do is put him in a taxi.
Ill or healthy, a mass murderer like Pinochet should stand trial - the victims will feel vindicated and know justice, though delayed, has been done.
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