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Saturday, October 24, 1998 Published at 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK


UK rejects call to free Pinochet

Call for former ruler to be 'brought to justice'

Britain has turned down a formal request from Chile to release the former Chilean military ruler, General Pinochet.

The pinochet File
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Chile's deputy foreign minister, Mariano Fernandez, that it was neither "proper nor possible" for the UK Government to intervene in the extradition proceedings against the general.

The meeting followed a fresh formal request by the Chilean Government for the "immediate end" of the detention of General Pinochet.

Chile argues the former ruler has diplomatic immunity and should be released.

The general's lawyers are due go to the High Court on Monday in an attempt get his arrest ruled invalid.

Due process

Mr Cook told his Chilean counterpart that the due legal process against the former dictator would have to take its course.

However Mr Cook also stressed that he did not want the case to interfere with Britain's relations with Chile.

General Pinochet is facing possible extradition to Spain for the murders of Spanish nationals under his rule.

London protests

[ image: Protest in driving rain]
Protest in driving rain
The ailing general is being held in a private London clinic where he is recovering from back surgery.

More than 150 protesters stood in driving wind and rain outside the clinic calling for General Pinochet to be brought to justice.

To the beat of drums and tambourines the protesters waved flags and chanted "We want justice".

A group of 35 Chileans who have lived in France for more than two decades made the trip to London to join protesters outside the clinic for 12 hours.

Two men were arrested for minor public order offences during the protest.

There were also protests in Spain where thousands marched through the capital, Madrid, calling for the general's extradition.

Some of the demonstrators carried photographs of those killed during the Pinochet era and denounced the general as a dictator.

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