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Butcher Pinochet makes a miraculous 'recovery'

Issue No. 1687

Butcher Pinochet makes a miraculous 'recovery'

"HE BOARDED the aeroplane a destroyed man and with the passing hours he began to recover." That admission came from the daughter of former Chilean dictator General Pinochet this week. It came just hours after home secretary Jack Straw said Pinochet was unfit to stand trial and "that no significant improvement could be expected". Pinochet's miraculous "recovery" shows what a farce and charade the whole scam to let him go was.

The real story had nothing to do with the former dictator's feigned illness. New Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook struck a foul deal as long ago as June with his counterpart in the Spanish government, Abel Matutes. Cook reportedly said, "I will not let him [Pinochet] die in Britain." Matutes replied, "I will not let him come to Spain."

Then a meeting between Cook and Spanish foreign minister Juan Gabriel Valdes saw the problem solved. Valdes stressed that Pinochet's health had to be the main consideration. Straw could then be confident the Spanish government would not challenge any decision to let Pinochet off.

Joan Garces, a lawyer for Spanish victims of Pinochet's regime, described Straw's decision as "a political deal allowing for impunity". Pinochet's guilt of barbarous crimes is not in doubt. Even Jack Straw admitted it was "established beyond question". Back in Chile it took just eight hours in hospital before Pinochet was pronounced well enough to leave for one of his posh private homes. While the old dictator lives in freedom, there is still no justice for the families of the thousands murdered and disappeared under Pinochet's regime. So much for New Labour's ethical foreign policy.

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Sat 11 Mar 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1687
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