Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 17:13 GMT
Protesters hail Pinochet ruling

Anti-Pinochet protesters Protesters greet the ruling with jubilation

Campaigners demanding the extradition and trial of former Chilean dictator General Pinochet have greeted the decision to release his medical reports as a victory.

Today was a significant step on the long road to achieving justice
Ann Clwyd MP
The High Court ruled on Tuesday that UK Home Secretary Jack Straw had been wrong to block the publication of the reports, which "minded" him to release the general.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP for Cynon Valley and chairwoman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, said: "I am delighted that the High Court has recognised that the interested parties must have access to all the evidence if they are to challenge the conclusion that Pinochet is too ill to stand trial."

In Chile, where the 84-year-old former dictator is likely to return if his release is granted, human rights campaigners rejoiced at the decision, punching the air in triumph.

Viviana Diaz, head of Families of the Detained/Disappeared, said he was "happy, satisfied, we are one step closer to seeing Pinochet being extradited to Spain to face the courts there".

And in Spain, Judge Baltasar Garzon, who has led the campaign to extradite the general, was also said to have welcomed the latest decision.

In Britain, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes also expressed his support for the move.

"There has always been the strongest case for the report to be published. Justice can only be done and be seen to be done if all the interested parties have all the relevant facts.

"An admission by Mr Straw that he was wrong would be welcome."

Richard Stein, lawyer for the Belgian Government said, following the ruling: "We are very pleased that the judgment which confirms the view we have been giving the Belgian Government all along that fairness demands the disclosure of the medical report."

His comments were echoed by Amnesty International spokesman Geoffrey Bindman.

'Big victory'

"It is a very big victory in the sense that the concern of Amnesty and other human rights organisations was that, in such a case, there should be very careful and very fair procedures to ensure that the decision made was transparent," he said.

Clive Nicholls, QC, acting for General Pinochet, accepted the court's declaration, saying he hoped the confidentiality of the medical details would be maintained.

Other supporters of the general were more vocal in their reactions.

Conservative former chancellor Lord Lamont, a prominent member of the campaign to send the general home, described the judgment as "quite disgraceful".

He said: "The courts are taking so long to resolve this matter it reflects no credit on the British legal system."

Luis Cortes, director of the Pinochet Foundation, a collective of the general's staunchest allies, was more optimistic.

"The ruling has a positive aspect," he said.

"It takes the situation away from the courts, turning it into a political matter. And if the main politician involved, Secretary Straw, lives up to his words, he should release my general soon."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
14 Feb 00 |  UK
Pinochet medical must be released

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories