Chilean Christian Democratic leader Jaime Castillo Velasco, expelled from Chile last year by the military government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, plans to challenge the decree pending against him by flying to Santiago this week.
In a telephone interview from Caracas, Venezuela, Castillo, whose enforced exile has been a focus of attention by human rights groups, said he hoped to enter Chile and challenge the Pinochet government to arrest and try him for the charges pending against him.
Castillo and several other Christian Democratic leaders, including party President Andres Zaldivar, were expelled from Chile in 1981 by administrative decree for alleged illegal political activity. Castillo has demanded a trial on the charges against him.
"It is a testimonial that I am doing to claim a basic right," Castillo said. "If I have committed a crime, I want to be tried for it. If I step on Chilean soil, I will be committing a crime, and I should be arrested and put on trial."
A Chilean court recently upheld the expulsion of Castillo and said he would be subject to arrest if he entered Chile. Castillo and other Christian Democratic exiles made a similar attempt to enter Chile earlier this year for the funeral of former Christian Democratic president Eduardo Frei. They were refused entry and put on a plane to Buenos Aires.
At the time of his expulsion, Castillo, a lawyer, was representing the family of Orlando Letelier, the assassinated former diplomat, in proceedings against Chilean officials.
Castillo was also president of the Chilean Human Rights Commission, which he founded in 1980.
Human rights groups and the Roman Catholic Church in Chile have described forced exile as one of the most serious rights problems in the military-ruled country. Church officials have estimated that about 300,000 Chileans are now living outside their country for political reasons.