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Wednesday, October 6, 1999 Published at 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK


Pinochet excused court after strokes

General excused extradition hearing appearance

General Augusto Pinochet has been excused appearing at the next hearing in his fight against extradition after a court heard he had recently suffered two minor strokes.

The pinochet File
The former Chilean dictator was due to attend Bow Street Magistrates Court in London on Friday to hear whether he would be committed to face extradition to Spain for alleged human rights crimes.

But sitting at Bow Street on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Stipendiary Magistrate Ronald Bartle granted an application by the 83-year-old's lawyers that he should be excused attendance because of ill-health.

[ image: General has a heart pacemaker]
General has a heart pacemaker
Mr Bartle said: "I am satisfied that Senator Pinochet's health would be further seriously endangered by his having to appear at this court and his attendance is therefore excused."

Giving evidence on the general's medical condition, Surrey GP Michael Loxton said he suffered the first stroke on September 9, followed by a second on September 25.

Dr Loxton, called as a witness for the general, told the court: "To put him in the witness box would run the risk of him being very ill."

Priest called

Dr Loxton told the court that on September 9 the general became ill at his rented mansion on the exclusive Wentworth Estate in Surrey, suffering from nausea and giddiness.

All the indications were that "he had a proper small stroke on September 9".

The doctor said that he could not provide definitive evidence that it was a stroke, because the general wears a heart pacemaker, which prevents him from undergoing a magnetic resonance scan, the test which would provide proof positive.

Dr Loxton said that on September 25 the general suffered further problems, when he collapsed as he tried to get up out of bed in the morning.

His Chilean doctor thought that he was dying and summoned a priest to the house.

Although the general recovered, Dr Loxton told the court: "We have very little doubt that he had had another small stroke."

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