LondonNet Comment on the arrest of Chile's General Augusto Pinochet in London.



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Pinochet Latest News and Menu: latest on the arrest of the Chilean strong man
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Pinochet Comment: LondonNet's view on the extradition saga
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LondonNet Comment


18/1/99
A brutal thug who must now face justice

25 NOVEMBER 1998 will be remembered for centuries as the day international justice came of age.

In an historic ruling the House of Lords decided that a sovereign cannot enjoy immunity for crimes against humanity. As we stood on the precipice of a new millennium it looked for a moment as if we had discarded the bloody and harsh 20th century. The world had grown up.

That brave ruling was endorsed by Home Secretary Jack Straw on 9 December but was then set aside by five more Law Lords who agreed with Pinochet's lawyers that there was 'an appearance of bias' as one of the original panel had links with a party to the action Amnesty International. That Lord Hoffman's connections were known by the General's lawyers months before his arrest cut no ice. And so once more the world's gaze is focused on Westminster as a fresh tribunal determine the former dictator's fate.

Augusto Pinochet is a strange and twisted product of a Prussian modelled military. A strict disciplinarian who ultimately failed to keep his word and thus a man of little or no honour. For it was this man with a fetish for outlandish military uniforms who swore allegiance to his President, Salavdor Allende, at the same time as he was planning his master's downfall. Such deceit and corruption had rarely been witnessed even in this amoral century.

But Pinochet's moral decay did not stop there. On seizing power he set upon a systematic and determined plan to eliminate all agents of opposition and democracy in his country. Thousands were brutally tortured and killed. Many more suffered years of harsh economic policies which rode roughshod over the interests of the populace while lining the pockets of Pinochet's middle class supporters. In 1988 he confidently faced his first election for the position of President, despite having held the office since 1974. A clear majority of the Chilean people voted against him and his tight grip on power began to unravel. At the time he compared his loss to Jesus losing to Barabbus.

A thug and a thief. If the rule of law is to mean anything in this evolving world Pinochet must face justice in Spain or elsewhere. Sadly we predict that the Lords this week, now dominated by establishment judges, will let their man go. That would be a tragedy and an outrage. Let us pray it does not happen and that justice once more prevails.


(10/12/98)
LondonNet Comment on Jack Straw's Approval of Pinochet's Extradition
'Straw does the right thing'

Jack Straw was sure to run in controversy whichever way he ruled in the Pinochet extradition affair.

LondonNet is pleased that Straw has effectively now drawn a line in the sand, creating a modern framework for international law and human rights to take us into the new millennium. It would be wrong to enter the new era saddled with the same injustices and toleration of butchers that have dogged this bloody century.

From this moment all leaders who play fast and loose with citizens rights can never sleep easy. This is the prime achievement of this new world order. We now hope that truth and reconciliation can follow for the people of Chile.

(25/11/98)
LondonNet Comment on the Lords' Ruling

'Pinochet gets a lesson in the Rule of Law'

'You're going to reap just what you sow' sang Lou Reed at the time of Pinochet's bloody overthrow of Salvador Allende's government in 1973.

Twenty five years later Reed's words have returned to haunt the South American sadist. And to the disbelief of many campaigners here in the United Kingdom our Labour Government has finally rediscovered its radical roots by allowing the English courts to further the boundaries of international justice.

Aside from an ugly rabble of Pinochet supporters, be they our ex Premier Margaret 'Milk Snatcher' Thatcher, or the sinister Pinochet Foundation in Chile, citizens all over the world will welcome today's historic and brave ruling. A tremor of fear will shudder down the spine of every leader around the globe who plays fast and loose with the human rights of their own people and those of their foreign guests.

Pinochet may reflect that while the British have afforded him a full and fair hearing under Common Law he extended no such rights to those foreign citizens he tortured, mutilated and murdered during his long stay in power. As for dissidents from his own nation, he showed nothing but contempt. When asked a short time before his fateful journey to Britain whether he had any regrets over his actions, he replied yes, he wished he had been even firmer.

Some have pressed for mercy for the strongman who today celebrates his 83rd birthday a frail and indicted old man. But mercy can only follow justice. The allegations of Spanish Judge Baltazar must first be put to Pinochet. The evidence must be heard and the truth must out. Only then can consideration of mitigating personal circumstances be aired. That is the Rule of Law. A subject the octogenarian will finally get a lesson in over the coming months. Eighty three years too late but timely nonetheless.


(18/10/98)
LondonNet Comment on Pinochet's Arrest

We called for the arrest of General Pinochet when we learned of his London visit and welcome this courageous move by our Home Secretary Jack Straw. While we cherish the special relationship this country has with the government and people of Chile we should remember that this closeness was in large part a result of the long standing democratic traditions of the South American state.

Salvador Allende was a hero of the left when he came to office and introduced wide ranging social reform. When he was arrested and subsequently executed following Pinochet's coup d'etat he rapidly became a martyr to the cause of international socialism. Rumours abounded at the time that the coup was supported by the USA's Central Intelligence Agency who feared a spread of left wing government in their own backyard.

Allende and his supporters were no revolutionaries, they were democratic socialists. As such they follow the tradition of the Labour Party in this country, the party that now governs under Prime Minister Tony Blair. As a young radical Straw strongly opposed Pinochet's regime at the time and his agreement to extradite the general can be seen as an act of continuity.

Make no mistake we do not wish this move to prejudice our long term friendship with the beautiful and proud people of Chile. We understand it may have a negative effect in the short term for trade between the two "allies". This must, however, be a risk worth taking if on the one hand we seek to bomb Serbs for human rights abuses today while on the other turning a blind eye to a butcher who stays in our own capital.


The arrest of Pinochet has brought mixed reaction from Chileans both here and in Chile itself. Our Talkback bulletin board has received dozens of messages, some supporting the General , others agreeing with his imminent prosecution. One North American wag even suggested that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger should postpone any planned UK trips indefinitely - otherwise British Police could arrest him too, for his part in the violent overthrow of Allende's government. (21/10/98)



Pinochet Menu

Pinochet Latest News and Menu: latest on the arrest of the Chilean strong man
Pinochet Archive News: previous news relating to the General
Pinochet Comment: LondonNet's view on the extradition saga
Pinochet Links: our guide to the man who Peter Mandelson calls a "brutal dictator"
Pinochet Key Quotes: diverse opinion from around the world
LondonNet Talkback: Leave messages on our interactive bulletin board
LondonNet News Headlines: Latest news from LondonNet
LondonNet Home Page: Full site menu: Guide, Entertainment, Talk


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