Former U.S. attorney Eugene Propper, who prosecuted the Letelier case. said yesterday that the Chilean high court action "was taken for other than strictly legal reasons" and should be countered by some action on the part of the White House.

Emphasizing that his reaction was based on a quick reading of the lengthy decision, Propper said, "There is no legal way any court could find the evidence [submitted by the U.S. government] insufficient for extradition."

"The executive branch must now show its reaction," said Propper, against what he described as "a dishonest decision." As for the Chilean executive, he said "they sent terrorists in here to murder and now they're doing nothing about it."

Propper left the Justice Department this summer and is now working for the Lane and Edson law firm, but is also negotiating for a contract to write a book on the case. He said the decision to write the book case "after I left the government" and the project is "at least two years down the road."

Noting that he had asked to be called back to complete the prosecution if extradition were granted, Propper said, "I would pass up the whole [book] project to try those people."

Michael Moffitt of the Institute for Policy Studies, whose wife was killed by the bomb that killed Letelier, questioned Propper's action in dealing for a book contract while the case remained opened.

On the overall government handling of the case, Moffitt said, "I don't feel they have dealt in good faith with us. They were telling us one thing and telling the Chileans another."

Earlier this year, Propper had asked Rep. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to hold back a resolution demanding sanctions against Chile until the Chilean court made its decision. A spokesman for Harkin said yesterday that the resolution, which has 56 co-sponsors, now will go forward.