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Friday, October 30, 1998 Published at 05:55 GMT


Pinochet bailed

Demonstrators outside the High Court

The former military leader of Chile, Augusto Pinochet, has been bailed at London's High Court while the House of Lords decides if he has immunity from prosecution.

The conditions of his bail require the retired general to remain at the private hospital in Southgate, north London, where he was moved to on Thursday.

[ image: General Pinochet is transferred from the clinic to another London hospital]
General Pinochet is transferred from the clinic to another London hospital
And he must stay under police guard at all times.

Bail was granted by Mr Justice Stephen Richards after the Crown Prosecution Service, the Kingdom of Spain and the Metropolitan Police took no steps to oppose the application.

Spanish judges applied for the extradition of the 82-year-old, which led to his arrest in London, where he was receiving medical treatment, on 16 October.

The pinochet File
Spain wants General Pinochet to answer charges of human rights violations in Chile, allegedly committed during his ruling years in the 1970s and 80s.

And a state prosecutor in France has begun an investigation against the general, after a group of familes with links with Chile requested his extradition.

On Wednesday the High Court in London ruled that General Pinochet's arrest was unlawful because he was entitled to immunity as a former head of state.

An appeal has been lodged against that decision and a final judgment will be made by the House of Lords next week. The Spanish judges have now also decided that they have the right to try him for these crimes in Spain.

The decision, however, may be purely academic if the British authorities, as expected, allow the general to fly home in the next few days.

Lawyers representing families of those killed under the military dictatorship in Chile say the Spanish authorities would be angered if they saw their extradition request ignored and General Pinochet was allowed to fly home.

They said they hope the House of Lords will overturn the High Court's decision.

[ image: General Pinochet: Also awaiting Spanish ruling]
General Pinochet: Also awaiting Spanish ruling
General Pinochet, who was moved from a clinic to the Grovelands Priory hospital in Southgate, is also pinning his hopes on the bail application.

It is understood that the former dictator, who remains under police guard, was moved to Grovelands because it affords better security than the London Clinic in central London.

Chile is at loggerheads with Spain and the UK over the Pinochet case and on Thursday night the French Justice Minister, Elisabeth Guigou, dipped her toe into the international row.

She told the French Senate it would be "intolerable" if General Pinochet escaped justice.

Ms Guigou said: "The idea of immunity for someone like General Pinochet, who is responsible for several thousand murders, is unbearable."

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