LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Law Lords ruled Wednesday in a dramatic majority verdict that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet must stay in Britain to face possible extradition on charges of murder, torture and genocide during his 17 years of iron rule.
Five Law Lords constituting the highest court in the land ruled by three to two that Pinochet, who turned 83 Wednesday, does not enjoy immunity from prosecution because of his former status as head of state. [What a pity... you were so close to win, Pinochet... >:o) ]
The landmark ruling means that Home Secretary Jack Straw, Britain's interior minister, must decide by December 2 whether to go ahead with extradition proceedings.
In a passage of high drama, the five Law Lords briefly read out their individual judgments in the gilded splendor of the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of parliament.
The first two judgments were in favor of Pinochet's immunity, raising the prospect that he would soon be flying home on a Chilean jet that has been on standby near London for several weeks. [I can see you smiling here... >:o)) ]
But the next three judges disagreed.
They sided with lawyers for the British and Spanish governments who had appealed against a High Court ruling last month that Pinochet's arrest at the request of a Spanish judge was wrong because he enjoyed immunity.
One of the three Law Lords who upheld the appeal, Lord Nicholls, said in his written judgment: "It cannot be stated too plainly that the acts of torture and hostage-taking with which Senator Pinochet is charged are offenses under United Kingdom statute law... [Of course... but, who asked you to be a "head of state"?? >:o))))]
"Arguments about the effect on this country's diplomatic relations with Chile if extradition were allowed to proceed, or with Spain if refused, are not matters for this court."
One of the Law Lords, Lord Steyn, said that would be equivalent to granting Hitler immunity for the extermination of the Jews during World War Two. [NO difference.]
Straw has the power to block the extradition, but Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has always insisted it would let justice take its course and would not interfere in a case that has been a diplomatic embarrassment for Britain. [Otherwise, "rompemo todo, rompemo!"]
A Home Office spokesman said immediately after the ruling: "We have no comment. The matter is now a judicial process."
Academics and lawyers said the verdict could have far-reaching consequences for international law.
"It's a wake-up call to tyrants around the world who think about embarking on mass murder," said Human Rights Watch. "This is a great day for Pinochet's thousands of victims," the international organization said in a statement.
Anti-Pinochet protesters outside parliament cheered the ruling while about 100 Chilean exiles and human rights activists outside the north London hospital where the general has been recuperating from back surgery erupted with delight. [Why is this back surgery, Pinocho?? You have never carried the bodies of your victims...]
They cracked open bottles of champagne and some wept tears of joy after hearing the verdict on a radio. [I cracked mine in here]
"English law screwed Pinochet, We've got justice finally," one of them said. In Chile, where the case has reopened wounds barely healed since Pinochet's departure from power, supporters of the former dictator reacted violently when the ruling was broadcast live on television.
Pinochet was arrested on October 16 on a warrant from Spain accusing him of involvement in the deaths and disappearances of more than 3,000 people during his rule from 1973, when he ousted socialist President Salvador Allende in a coup, until 1990.
A Spanish judge accused him of a sweeping anti-leftist conspiracy involving the Chilean military and security forces from other Latin American nations. France, Switzerland and a number of other countries have since also requested his extradition.
Ann Clwyd, a Labour member of parliament who chairs parliament's Human Rights Group, said she was delighted with the verdict.
"I was standing outside waiting for a telephone call with someone who was tortured for 2-1/2 years under the law of General Pinochet," Clwyd said. "It's a great day for British justice. This shows our respect for international law."
But supporters of the retired general in Chile raged against the decision, punching, jeering and insulting journalists covering reactions to the verdict.
"Get out, you sons of whores!" they shouted at cameramen and reporters inside the plush offices of the Pinochet Foundation in Santiago, which doles out military scholarships in Chile. [Which is less original, the shout or the name of the "Foundation"?]
Pinochet's son, also named Augusto Pinochet, told Chilean television: "My father has received a sadistic and cruel blow on his (83rd) birthday that goes beyond the rights of mankind.". [I still remember when, a few years ago, Chilean army treatened with another dictatorship because this kid had some issue with the justice. I hope his father will receive the same mercy he gave to the thousands of innocent people he tortured and murdered.]
But there was jubilation at the offices of the protest group Families of the Detained and Disappeared, representing relatives of thousands of victims of Pinochet's repressive regime.
Almost alone in Britain, ex-prime minister Margaret Thatcher spoke out in support of Pinochet, saying in a statement he was "old, frail and sick and on compassionate grounds alone should be allowed to return to Chile." [ Yes: all you are now thinking about her is true...]
Chilean stocks fell by 0.5 percentage points after the news, reflecting fears of strife over the life senator's fate. [ Yes, murderers are still in power there. Let's see how much power they have in Europe...]
11/29/98: "I believe in Spain or in Britain or anywhere else you would only get a symbolic justice because you'd never be able to find out or really investigate what really happened in Chile,"Chile's Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza said. [The whole world knows that it is exactly the opposite: it is impossible for Chile to make any justice with Pinochet. Because he and his Mafia are still in power. Because Pinochet is a senator for life, with an amnesty he granted himself while still in power. Because more than a quater century has been left behind and nothing has been done. Because almost a decade ago Pinochet "left" the army and nothing has been done. Nothing had and will be done in Chile regarding Pinochet. Moreover, we should not forget that Pinochet would not only face trial on crimes committed in Chile: he perpetrated crimes all over the world, outside Chile; he also tortured and murdered Angentinian, Spanish, French, and citizens of many others countries. Those countries have not only the right but the obligation to make Pinochet face trial in their own courts.]
12/01/98: SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Chile is wooing "friendly countries" to lobby Britain into releasing ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet and into blocking the bid to extradite him to Spain to face charges of genocide and torture.
Presidential Chief of Staff John Biehl said Monday that many pro-Chile countries were involved in the effort to persuade Britain to intervene in the extradition process but declined to name the nations involved.
"Steps are being taken with many friendly countries. It is easy to understand that there are many heads of state and authorities of friendly nations that prefer to act without the contact becoming public," Biehl, Chile's former ambassador to the United States, told Radio Cooperativa.
Local media have speculated that Chile could be urging President Clinton to speak with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the thorny issue.
The United States has so far kept out the Pinochet affair, causing commentators to suggest that Washington does not want to become embroiled in the extradition battle on both economic and political grounds.
Also, recently declassified U.S. documents have suggested the United States played a destabilizing role in Chile in the early 1970s. ["Recently"? "Suggested"?? "Destabilizing"??? It is well known the strong support in many ways that the United States gave to Pinochet, also in killing pelople, even american citizens, like the one in the Hollywood movie "Missing". This happened not ony with the Chilean dictatorship... As it is used to be, not by convictions. Just for money.]
The United States is eyeing lucrative defense contracts with Chile, not least a possible $600 million deal to renovate Chile's aging jet fighter fleet. [...and perhaps not to reveal more bloody tradition...]
An FBI cable, dated Sept. 28, 1976, says that Operation Condor, a joint effort by Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to stamp out leftist opposition in exile. The cable notes that the ``most secret phase of `Operation Condor' involves the formation of special teams from member countries who are to travel anywhere in the world to nonmember countries to carry out "sanctions" up to assassination.''
``There are literally thousands of documents in the records of the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department and elsewhere that would literally prove Spain's case against Gen. Pinochet,'' said Peter Kornbluh, an analyst with the National Security Archive, a private Washington library that seeks and collects formerly classified national security documents. ``It is only if the White House orders full disclosure and full cooperation that this hidden history will be made available.''
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the Clinton administration still did not have an opinion on the merits of the case. But he stressed that the United States has a record of strongly condemning abuses that occurred during Pinochet's rule. [WHAT? Their "record machine" should be broken...]
He also reiterated that the views of a democratic country like Chile in this case must be given "respect". Chile is trying to persuade Britain not to extradite Pinochet to Spain. [We must NOT misunderstand the "opinion" of Pinochet's goverment with the opinion of most Chilean citizens. In the last public consult in Chile, 60% of the population wanted Spain itself to judge Pinochet, while "only" less than 20% is (still) supporting his genocide.]
WASHINGTON (AP) - Once-secret U.S. intelligence files provide Spanish prosecutors evidence linking former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet and his military government to alleged crimes ranging from torture and genocide to the execution of two Americans.
Many of the documents point to the close relationship between the Nixon administration and Pinochet's government, even amid widely publicized human rights excesses.
A Feb. 11, 1974, telegram to Kissinger from the U.S. embassy in Chile about Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, the two Americans executed in Santiago in the immediate aftermath of the 1973 coup, describes the context in which U.S. officials raised the subject with Chile's foreign minister. The issue revolved around ``the need to be careful to keep relatively small issues in our relationship from making our cooperation more difficult.'' [..."relatively small issues"...]
The Nov. 16, 1973, State Department memorandum to Kissinger on the summary executions of Chileans and some foreigners conducted in a Santiago stadium explains that ``The Chilean leaders justify these executions as entirely legal in the application of martial law.'' It notes that ``The purpose of the executions is in part to discourage by example those who seek to organize armed opposition to the Junta.'' [No need to say that there was no "legal" martial law in Chile...]
Spanish officials are expected to seek access to redacted portions in partially declassified documents. The April 15, 1975, defense attache intelligence report from Chile that identifies Pinochet as sole authority over the DINA, for example, was heavily edited by U.S. censors before its release. [While living in the United States, I was deeply surprised realizing censure even in Daffy Duck's cartoons of the 50's and in "The adventures of Hucklberry Finn". But I think this has nothing to do with the issue. Or it does?]
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - An ultra right-wing protester gives the Nazi salute
while standing among Pinochet supporters. [Time unveiling the real face...]
The pathetic Pinochet supporter guy,
in his knees at the right of this picture yesterday in Santiago,
could have been murdered a few years ago in Chile just because his long hair.
Feliz cumpleaños, General Pinochet!!
This week could not be better
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Military leaders who conducted Argentina's "dirty war" are once again facing charges linked to that violent era, eight years after they received a presidential pardon. [...that is, "presidential IMPUNITY".]
Accusations of child kidnapping have landed Emilio Eduardo Massera and Jorge Videla - members of the junta that reigned from 1976-83 - back in court. [These are two of our several "pinochets"; they tortured and murdered 10 times more people than Pinochet.]
Massera, a former naval admiral, was arrested Tuesday after spending the day in
a court answering questions surrounding the case of two children born to parents
Both men face similar charges of child kidnapping. Their cases are not covered under the 1990 pardon granted junta members by President Carlos Menem. [:oþ]
Human rights groups say that children born to dissidents held in captivity during the "dirty war" were frequently adopted by military officials. Massera's case involves the children of Patricia Roisinblit and Cecilian Vinas, two women who disappeared in 1976 from the Navy Mechanics School. [PLEASE, stop calling "dirty war" that coward genocide! There was NO WAR in Argentina in the 70-80's!!!]
Vinas' son was raised by one of Massera's chief assistants. At age 20, he took a genetic test that helped showed who his parents were. His biological father, Reynaldo Penin, was also among the disappeared.
Massera's lawyer, Miguel Arce Aggeo, vehemently denied the kidnapping charge and said he planned to fight his arrest.
The retired admiral will have to make another court appearance in December in a separate case involving other children born to parents in captivity.
Videla, a former army lieutenant general, is already confined to his home following a judge's ruling in June.
As the navy's highest ranking officer, Massera was responsible for a military school that was converted into a clandestine torture and killing center during the seven-year military dictatorship.
The Argentine government says nearly 9,000 people disappeared during the military regime's war on leftists and dissidents. Human rights groups says the figure is closer to 30,000.
Those groups praised Massera's detainment on Tuesday.
The head of the Grandmothers' of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, said "it was great news" that one of the leading figures of the dictatorship was being held.
LONDON (Reuters) (03/24/1999) - Britain's highest court ruled Wednesday that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's arrest in Britain was lawful, opening the way for a hearing on his extradition to Spain.
In November, another Law Lords panel ruled he had to face extradition
proceedings. But that ruling was set aside because of alleged bias on
the part of one of the judges, who had links to human rights
group Amnesty International.
LONDON (Reuters) (04/15/1999) - British Home Secretary Jack Straw decided Thursday that extradition proceedings should go ahead against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who is wanted in Spain on torture and conspiracy charges. [LET HIM PROVE HE'S INNOCENT]
LONDON (Reuters) (10/08/1999) - A British court ruled Friday that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet can be extradited to Spain to stand trial on torture charges dating from his rule, setting off wild celebrations by his opponents.
Pinochet Opponents Dance In Street: ``He's going to Spain, he's going to Spain,'' they chanted as they danced in the street and popped open champagne bottles.
In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson also hailed the decision. ``The message of a year of proceedings in the Pinochet case and of today's ruling is clear. Those who commit, order or tolerate torture can no longer be sure of a peaceful retirement,'' she said in statement.