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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 00:02 GMT
Home Office statement in full

Pinochet: "Unfit to stand trial"

This is the text of the statement on General Augusto Pinochet released on Tuesday night by the Home Office.

The Secretary of State has over past months received a number of representations concerning Senator Pinochet's state of health.

Until last October, these did not appear to suggest any material change in the position since the Secretary of State's consideration of issues relating to Senator Pinochet's health at the time he gave Authority to Proceed in the case on 14 April 1999.

The unequivocal and unanimous conclusion is that ... he is at present unfit to stand trial
Home Office statement
Senator Pinochet has not himself since then made direct representations to the Secretary of State about his state of health, nor has he at any time put his fitness to stand trial directly in issue in any legal proceedings in the case.

Representations on the subject were, however, submitted by the Chilean Embassy on 14 October 1999, attaching recent medical reports on Senator Pinochet.

These suggested that there had been recent and significant deterioration in Senator Pinochet's condition.

When the Secretary of State first received, from the Chilean Embassy, indications supported by medical evidence that the situation might have changed, he took the view that he needed to inform himself more fully before deciding whether any further action by him might be appropriate.

Expert clinicians

He therefore requested Senator Pinochet to undergo a thorough and extensive medical examination, to be undertaken by an eminent team of clinicians to be appointed by the Secretary of State, with a view to obtaining comprehensive advice on his condition.

Senator Pinochet gave that consent, and agreed to the ensuing medical report being available in full to the Secretary of State and to the prosecuting authorities.

Pinochet underwent tests earlier this month
The examination was undertaken on January 5 by a team of expert clinicians established by the Secretary of State as being of outstanding national and international reputation and as having no inappropriate personal interest in the case.

The team consisted of Professor Sir John Grimley Evans FRCP, Professor of Clinical Geratology, University of Oxford; Dr Michael Denham MD FRCP (Lond. Edin.) FRSA, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, Northwick Park Hospital, London; Professor Andrew Lees MD FRCP, Professor of Neurology, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London; and Maria Wyke MA PhD, Consultant Neuropsychologist.

Professor Lees and Dr Wyke are fluent Spanish speakers, and the examination was conducted in Spanish.

Patient confidentiality

Any questions put to the doctors or their places of work will be immediately referred to the Home Office Press Office.

The Secretary of State is take the view that no purpose would be served by continuing the present extradition proceedings
Home Office statement
In particular they cannot make any comment whatsoever on the details of the Senator's case due to patient confidentiality.

The Secretary of State has now received the team's report.

The detail of the report is and remains confidential to Senator Pinochet, but the unequivocal and unanimous conclusion of the three medical practitioners and the consultant neuropsychologist is that, following recent deterioration in the state of Senator Pinochet's health which seems to have occurred principally during September and October 1999, he is at present unfit to stand trial, and that no change to that position can be expected.

In the circumstances, the Secretary of State is minded, subject to any representations he may receive, to take the view that no purpose would be served by continuing the present extradition proceedings and that he should therefore decide not to extradite Senator Pinochet.

Further representations

The Home Office is writing to the Crown Prosecution Service as representatives of the Kingdom of Spain and to the Government of Chile, informing them of the above matters and inviting them to make representations.

Letters are also going to France, Belgium and Switzerland who have outstanding extradition requests.

The general was treated in hospital last Setember
Amnesty International, the Caring for Victims of Torture Medical Foundation, the Redress Trust, the Association of Disappeared Persons in Chile and Human Rights Watch, have been invited, in the circumstances, to submit any further representations they consider the Secretary of State should take into account in considering such a decision.

All representations are sought within seven days.

Senator Pinochet has been asked to agree to Spain and other countries with an outstanding extradition request being provided with a copy of the medical report.

He has, however, declined to do so.

The Home Secretary will make a statement to Parliament on the case when it is finally concluded.

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