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Chilean president-elect Ricardo Lagos
"A Pinochet trial in Chile will produce some tensions"
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Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 06:52 GMT
Deadline for Pinochet protests

General Pinochet Pinochet: Ready to leave immediately if freed

As the deadline for submissions against the release of former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet approaches, human rights campaigners are rallying to prevent his return home.

Last week Home Secretary Jack Straw said he was "minded" to let General Pinochet return to Chile - and gave until 1700 GMT on 18 January to allow for representations against the move to be made.

The pinochet File
Relatives of victims of the Pinochet regime have since appealed to Scotland Yard to charge the former dictator with torture, and Spain is requesting that he undergo further medical tests.

Mr Straw's move came after a team of independent medical experts said the 84-year-old general was unfit to be extradited to Spain.

Other groups have also come forward to contest the decision.

Judge Baltasar Garzon Judge Baltasar Garzon: Wants further medical tests
Spain's Judge Baltasar Garzon, who secured the former dictator's arrest in London in October 1998, has requested that the general undergo further medical tests.

The Spanish foreign ministry said it had forwarded a petition from the judge, who wants the tests to be carried out by doctors of his choice, and also wishes to question the general.

Amnesty International also said they might seek an immediate judicial review of the way the medical examination on General Pinochet was carried out.

They have criticised the tests for being carried out in secret, without either medical experts or observers appointed by the other parties involved, and without any details from the medical report being released.

An Amnesty spokesman said: "Even someone accused of mass torture has the right to a fair legal process.

"But the procedure followed by Jack Straw over Pinochet's medical tests has been totally irregular and flouts natural justice.

Jack Straw Jack Straw: 'Minded' to release Pinochet

"This process risks becoming a mockery of justice."

A delegation of relatives of the "disappeared" met the Metropolitan Police's Assistant Commissioner David Veness on Monday to lobby for an investigation into General Pinochet under UK law.

The delegation, led by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, included Mercedes Rojas, whose husband Oscar vanished during General Pinochet's 17-year rule in Chile.

Mr Corbyn said Mr Veness had confirmed Scotland Yard had a file on the general and was considering whether to take any action.

"As part of the investigation into Pinochet these women have been forced to reveal extremely unpleasant and hurtful details about their experience, yet Jack Straw refuses to reveal the medical evidence on which he plans to send the dictator home."

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See also:
18 Jan 00 |  Europe
Pinochet not priority for new president
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Call for more Pinochet tests
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Last-ditch attempt to block Pinochet release
12 Jan 00 |  UK
Home Office statement in full
11 Jan 00 |  UK
Anger over Pinochet decision
11 Jan 00 |  Americas
Pinochet faces trial in Chile
05 Jan 00 |  UK
Too ill to face the law?

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