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Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 15:52 GMT


Cheers and caution greet Pinochet ruling

Pinochet's supporters in Chile expect the general to fight on

Opponents of former Chilean leader General Augusto Pinochet are claiming victory after Wednesday's ruling that he is not immune from extradition.

Sheila Cassidy of Amnesty Intl: "There will be no place to hide"
But they accepted that the general will continue his fight to avoid facing charges of human rights abuse.

Anti-Pinochet demonstrators outside the House of Lords clapped and cheered on hearing that the UK's highest court had ruled that the general's arrest in London was lawful.

[ image: Carlos Reyes warned that the general is still powerful]
Carlos Reyes warned that the general is still powerful
One of the protesters, Carlos Reyes of Chile Demacratico, who spent two years in a Chilean concentration camp, said: "It has been 25 years waiting for today and there is still one stage more.

"We cannot forget that General Pinochet is a very powerful man and he has very powerful allies and will continue fighting.

"We know that there is still the important day to come when Pinochet is seen in court and found guilty by a court of law."

In the streets outside the exclusive Wentworth estate in Surrey where Pinochet is under armed police guard in a rented house, jubilant demonstrators danced with joy after hearing the outcome.

Carnival atmosphere

A cheer rang out as news of the outcome filtered through and dozens of protesters broke down in tears and hugged each other.

Throughout the day the protesters had been chanting and banging drums on the side of the A30 road within 200 yards of the 83-year-old General's temporary home.

A carnival atmosphere of Chilean music and waving flags preceded and followed the announcement.

One protester, Manuel Rivas, said: "I'm pleased that justice has been done and I think that the British justice system should be proud of itself.

"This is the only right decision in this case."

He said that he had been confident that the right decision would be reached and that the celebration would now begin.

Rodrigo Fenick, 39, whose mother-in-law was tortured under the Pinochet regime, said: "It is a great day because I can telephone my children and tell them that the man who was responsible for so much suffering to our family will have to answer for his crimes."

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