Exiles Bring Cases Against Pinochet
"Now that Pinochet is in custody in London, we for the first time have the opportunity to lay these charges before a British court," a statement from the group, Chileans in Exile, said. Representatives of the group said at a news conference that legal papers would be presented to a London magistrate in the next few days. Under a British law anyone can launch criminal proceedings as long as they are willing to fund them.
Also today, Amnesty International and two other human rights groups sought to have Pinochet prosecuted in Britain under a new anti-torture law.
Britain arrested Pinochet Friday while he was recovering from back surgery in a private London hospital after it received an extradition request from a Madrid judge who has accused the retired general of genocide, torture and terrorism in cases involving 94 people, including Spanish and British nationals.
In a statement released through his lawyers on Monday, Pinochet, 82, vowed to resist attempts to extradite him.
The prosecution launched by Chileans in Exile centered on the cases of two Britons who disappeared in Chile -- William Beausire and a man identified only as Woodward -- and would, according to the group, take legal precedence over attempts by the Spanish judge to extradite Pinochet. "At the end of the day, Pinochet is going to answer to the people who suffered torture, imprisonment and concentration camps, and especially to the mothers and families of the 'disappeared,' " Carlos Reyes, a group member, said.
A Chilean politician who spoke to Pinochet's wife today said Pinochet was likely to stay in the hospital for several days. "He's really very, very sick," Alberto Espina, chairman of the center-right National Renovation party, told reporters.
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon is preparing a formal extradition request that must be approved by Spain's cabinet before going through diplomatic channels to Britain. The Spanish government said it would back efforts to bring him to Madrid if Spanish courts formally requested it.
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