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Monday, November 30, 1998 Published at 05:26 GMT


Pinochet talks continue

Anti-British feeling is running high among Pinochet supporters

Chile's foreign minister meets the Defence Secretary George Robertson on Monday as he continues to press for the release of former dictator General Pinochet.

Jose Miguel Insulza is pursuing diplomatic efforts as the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is considers Spain's request to have General Pinochet extradited on charges of human rights abuses.

The UK Government has denied it has struck a deal to try General Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

The pinochet File
Two Sunday newspapers reported an agreement that would guarantee the former leader a trial in Chile to avoid a diplomatic dispute between the countries.

The alleged compromise would avoid the granting of a controversial extradition request to Spain, where Gen Pinochet would be tried on charges of genocide and murder.

BBC Political Correspondent John Kampfner: The lobbying on all sides is reaching fever pitch
A UK Government spokesman said: "The position is unchanged from last week. (Home Secretary) Jack Straw will make the decision in a quasi-judicial capacity.

"It is about extradition to Spain and he has always made clear it is not a political decision."

Chile's Foreign Minister, Jose Miguel Insulza, also denied any deal.

Jose Miguel Insulza: Spain offers only "symbolic justice"
"We have not had negotiations saying give him back to us and we will try him," he told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

However, Mr Insulza insisted that a trial in Chile offered the best hope of justice.

He said: "The only real chance to have some kind of justice and some kind of truth is in Chile where the events happened."

Mr Insulza insisted there was no general immunity against the 83-year-old former dictator and that 14 charges against him in Chile would be thoroughly investigated.

Chilean MP Thomas Josalyn-Holt: "Sceptical" of trial in Chile
But one Chilean politician, Thomas Josalyn-Holt, who has tried to impeach the former dictator, says he is "sceptical" that Gen Pinochet will be tried in his own country.

Mr Insulza travels to Spain on Monday in further efforts to stop the extradition.

Representations to Mr Straw on the extradition claim also have to be submitted on Monday.

[ image: Mr Insulza: Wants Gen Pinochet to return to Chile]
Mr Insulza: Wants Gen Pinochet to return to Chile
A Home Office spokesman said Mr Straw would take legal advice and "look closely" at them all.

Gen Pinochet was arrested in a London clinic on 16 October following a request from two Spanish judges who want him to face charges of murder, torture and genocide.

A ruling by the UK's highest court, the House of Lords, decided that Gen Pinochet did not qualify for immunity from arrest and could be extradited.

He will appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London on 11 December when government lawyers will reveal if Mr Straw has granted an "Authority to Proceed" with extradition.

Meanwhile speculation is mounting that Gen Pinochet could be moved from his London hospital to a security-approved suite in a Heathrow Airport hotel.

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