83 years old formal Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973-1990, was arrested in London on 10/16/98 where he was recuperating in a hospital after a back surgery. The warrant was issued by the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, nicknamed "superjudge" for his penchant for high-profile cases, following a 2-years investigation by Spanish judges into Latin America's dirty wars,¡± accused Pinochet of responsibility for the death of socialist president Salvador Allende during a bloody 1973 coup. Pinochet faced charges in Spain accusing him of genocide, torture and responsibility for the deaths or disappearance of more than 3,000 people during his regime. Spanish Government maintained that it would not intervene with judicial processes. The human right groups hailed at the arrest of the ex-dictator, but critics said it was a rash action that crossed international boundary disrespecting a nation's sovereignty. In Chile, both supporters and opponents of Pinochet demonstrated in the streets.
Pinochet appealed to high court claiming his British arrest was unlawful as he enjoyed a diplomatic "Sovereign Immunity" as a senator and an ex-head of state. A London high court ruled in his favor, but the decision was overruled in a 5-3 majority decision by the Law Lords of the House of Lord, Britain's Highest court, on 11/25/99. The ruling was protested by Chilean Government who claim that Pinochet should stand trial in Chile where the alleged crimes were committed, and that the act is a disrespect for Chilean sovereignty and jurisdiction. Tony Blair's government was put into an embarrassed situation and Home Secretary Jack Straw requested an extension till 12/15/98 before he ruled if proceedings to extradite Pinochet should proceed. Chile sent Foreign Minister Insulza to Britain and Spain to negotiate the return of Pinochet to Chilean Jurisdiction, but both governments maintained that it was a judicial matter, not political, and they would not intervene.
Pinochet appealed to the Law Lord's decisions and would stand trial in a rehearing. He declared refusal to accept any form of British rule and told reporters he's prepared to die in UK if necessary. On 3/27/99, General Pinochet lost his appeal for immunity from prosecution in a historic second ruling by the UK's highest court, but the Law Lords reduced the number of charges against him, and ask Home Secretary Jack Straw to reconsider the case. Later, Straw ruled that Augusto Pinochet cannot go free, and allows Spain permission to go ahead with an extradition request. Straw said he had considered Britain's national interest and General Pinochet's age and health were not reasons enough for rejecting the extradition request.
Pinochet is expected to fight extradition through British courts for at least another 2 years. He is under house arrest in Britain.
On Pinochet's Regime:
Sept. 11, 1973: Pinochet leads armed forces in a bloody coup that overthrows President Salvador Allende, a Marxist elected in 1970. Allende dies during the coup, cause dubious. A military junta led by Pinochet takes power and represses supporters of the ousted leftist government. Hundreds of leftists are killed or disappear after being arrested, thousands are sent to concentration camps and into exile. Congress is closed and political activity is prohibited.
June 20, 1974: Pinochet becomes supreme chief of the nation, retaining his post as president of the military junta.
Jan. 4, 1978: Pinochet, faced with growing international and domestic condemnation of human rights abuse, calls a national referendum to seek support from the Chilean people. He won the ballot, but opposition leaders charge widespread fraud.
Sept. 11, 1980: Pinochet wins approval in a referendum for a new constitution that confirms his presidency until March 11, 1989. It also allowed him to seek a new period of rule until 1997.
March 11, 1981: The new constitution went into effect.
Sept. 6, 1986: Pinochet survives an assassination attempt by a leftist urban guerrilla commando.
Aug. 30, 1988: The military junta nominated Pinochet as the sole candidate in an Oct. 5 presidential referendum, sparking widespread protests.
1990: Pinochet was ousted in free elections. However, he remains army commander.
1998: Pinochet stepped down as army commander and became a senator for life, under the constitution he helped write.
Key Individuals, Places and Organization: - Augusto Pinochet, Judge Baltasar Garzon, Jack Straw, The British, Chilean and Spanish Government. Tony Blair and Baroness Margaret Thacher. USA's CIA's archives, Salvador Allende (Chilean ex-socialist president), Human rights groups.
Special Terms and Concepts: - British and International Law, British-Chilean Ties, Human Rights Violations, Chile's political history, Right-winged Extremists, Operation "Condor" and Latin America's "dirty wars", Authoritarian dictatorship, Sovereign Immunity.
10/16- Chile's former dictator, General Pinochet who had ruled Chile for 17 years, was arrested in a London hospital by the British Police. He was arrested under warrant issued by Spanish judges seeking to extradite the former dictator to face charges related to political killings alleged to have taken place, during his 1973-1990 rule in Chile.
10/17- The government of Chilean President Eduardo Frei formally protested British actions. Santiago said the British Authorities should have respected the diplomatic immunity that General Pinochet enjoyed as a senator-for-life. Pinochet faced 14 charges in Chile including state terrorism to genocide.
10/23- Ex-British Conservative prime minister Baroness Thatcher wrote to the Times of London newspaper demanding that Pinochet be allowed to return to Chile. She describes the general in glowing terms. "I have better cause than most to remember that Chile, led at that time by General Pinochet, was a good friend to this country during the Falklands War,"
10/30- Pinochet's arrest ruled unlawful by a high court in London. His bail was allowed.
11/25- Britain's highest court, The Law Lords of the House of Lords, with a 3-2 majority decision, ruled that Pinochet did not have Sovereign immunity from arrest under British Law.
11/26- British home secretary Jack Straw's request for a week's extension into mid-September, of a court deadline for deciding whether to authorize moving ahead with the Spanish Petition for extradition, was granted.
11/26- The Chilean Embassy delivered written arguments for Pinochet's release to the British home office.
11/27- Chilean Foreign minister Miguel Insulza met with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Cook maintained that his Government will not intervene with the judicial process.
11/30- Miguel Insulza arrived in Madrid to press his case for Pinochet to be tried in Chile instead of Spain, after an unsuccessful attempt in Britain to have Pinochet sent to Chile. He told reporters that the political climate in Spain was favorable to Pinochet. He would meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar the next day.
11/30- Spanish Prime Minister Anzar said that his government would maintain its position of not interfering with the juridical process.
12/01- Groveland Prory Hospital, where Pinochet was recuperating in after a back surgery, said that he was no longer in need of the medical care it provided and wanted him to discharge. This meant Straw would find it difficult to justify a ruling against Pinochet's extradition based on his ill-health.
12/09- Straw announced that the British government agrees to the courts begin with the proceedings of Pinochet's extradition. The high court would investigate into whether Pinochet had Sovereign Immunity from arrest under British Law, Pinochet's legal team appealed to appeals court, and the appeal will be judged on 12/15.
12/11- Pinochet, in his first testimony in British courts, declared that he would not accept any ruling of the British Courts.
12/12- Chile announced a series of serious measures to protest British actions, including the suspension of official visits and meetings with UK ministers.
12/17- British appeals courts announced that Pinochets's claim to have Sovereign Immunity will be re-tried.
12/23- British lower court ruled the re-trial of Pinochet's extradition to Spain would be postpone to 2/1/99, pending the ruling of high court on whether Pinochet had Immunity from British's arrest.
3/27/99- Pinochet lost his appeal for immunity from prosecution in a historic second ruling by the UK's highest court, but the Law Lords reduce the number of charges against him, and ask Home Secretary Jack Straw to reconsider the case. The ruling decided that British Laws only applied to his alleged crimes committed after 1988, when Britain signed the International Convention Against Torture.
4/15/99- UK Home Secretary Jack Straw ruled that Augusto Pinochet cannot go free, and allows Spain permission to go ahead with an extradition request. Straw said he had considered Britain's national interest, General Pinochet's age and health but decided they were not reasons enough for rejecting the extradition request.
But Straw's decision does not mean that Pinochet would be extradited
to Spain immediately. He is expected to fight extradition through the British
courts, which could take several years. Pinochet is confined in UK, under
house arrest. He had told reporter that he had resigned to his fate of
possibly dying in Great Britain, maintaining that it was "part of the sacrifice
A Helpful Web Site: BBC's Pinochet Timelinekssoo@seas.upenn.edu