Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 02:02 GMT


Mixed reaction to Pinochet result

Protesters outside the clinic where General Pinochet is held

The pinochet File
There has been mixed reaction to the decision that General Pinochet cannot be tried in Britain for alleged crimes against humanity in Chile.

BBC's Fergal Keane: "Even a partial victory was enough to send the General's supporters into ecstasy"
Neither the former dictator's supporters nor critics were completely happy at the court ruling as it carried the proviso that he should remain in detention pending any appeal.

Chileans in exile, who were at the court hearing, cheered when they heard there was room for an appeal against the decision.

BBC's Latin America Editor Antonia Paradela: "Disappointment for both sides"
The BBC correspondent in Chile's capital, Santiago, says members of the Communist Party gathered outside the presidential palace to voice their protest at the High Court's decision, while supporters of the General celebrated outside the Pinochet Foundation.

He adds that Gen Pinochet's supporters say they are now considering starting legal action against the Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, for political persecution.

Mariano Fernandez: "Very satisfied"
The Chilean Deputy Foreign Minister, Mariano Fernandez, said: "The Chilean Government is very happy and satisfied that the British High Court has recognised Senator Pinochet's immunity."

But lawyers in Spain, who made the initial request for the arrest of the 82-year-old general, were dismayed.

Juan Garces: "Very negative"
Juan Garces, a lawyer investigating General Pinochet's alleged crimes against humanity, said: "I do not know how the British court arrived at such a conclusion.

"I think it is a very dangerous principle to grant immunity to any head of state even if he is accused of crimes against humanity.

"That will create a precedent which could be very negative for the international community."

Outside the clinic, where General Pinochet is being held, there were scuffles when his wife, daughters and son, arrived shortly after the result had been announced.

Demonstrators chanted "killer" in Spanish as they walked into the clinic.

Helen Bamber, founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said: "The High Court has made England a safe haven for dictators and former dictators.

"Does this mean that men like Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic are safe to swan around the globe in the knowledge that legally they are untouchable?"

Political row

Opposition Conservatives have accused ministers of crass behaviour in the treatment of the general.

Conservative MP John Wilkinson said: "He came on a special mission authorised by his parliament with a diplomatic passport at the invitation of a leading arms manufacturer, with VIP treatment laid on by our own foreign office.

"It was only when he was about to go home, when he was sick in bed after a very severe operation, that the warrant was issued to him."

And Shadow Home Secretary Sir Norman Fowler demanded Home Secretary Jack Straw give a Commons statement on the Pinochet affair.

But throughout the affair the British Government has insisted it carried out its duty properly.

In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "The judicial process has not involved the Government issuing warrants for arrest.

"That is done by the Spanish authorities through Interpol to the British magistrates, who then take it from there."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

28 Oct 98 | UK
Pinochet arrest ruled unlawful

28 Oct 98 | UK
The legal case for Pinochet

22 Oct 98 | The Pinochet file
Chile's saviour - or tyrant

Internet Links

President of Chile, Eduardo Frei

UK Foreign Office Travel Advice: Chile

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online