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Pinochet Set to Evade Justice
- Straw is "minded" to release 84 year old former dictator

AUGUSTO PINOCHET is set to evade facing justice following the news that the Home Secretary is "minded" to agree that he is unfit to stand trial.

Pinochet underwent rigorous medical checks last week at the hands of "eminent" doctors. Initial reports suggested he might be fit to stand trial. However, last night's announcement by Home Secretary Jack Straw makes it clear that, subject to an appeal by interested parties - perhaps the Spanish authorities and/or Amnesty International - the 84-year-old will be free to go home in a week's time. Early indications are that the Spanish may not seek to challenge the ruling.

"I feel choked. For 25 years, thousands of families have been suffering. The whole country is suffering the consequences of his regime. To know that he is escaping justice is unbelievable" said Carlos Reyes, a spokesman for Chile Democratico, a group representing Chileans living in exile.

Not everyone is displeased by the news though. The former general is said to be "delighted" at the news of his impending release. Ex-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher revelled in the change of fortune for her Falklands War buddy "I would trust the Home Secretary's judgment. He is a very fair man".

Pinochet can expect a mixed reaction when and if he returns to Santiago de Chile. While he will no doubt attract a crowd of loyalists at the airport, his return will also put in motion a campaign to have him prosecuted in his home country. Chile based human rights lawyer Julia Urquieta promised "We will continue to pursue justice. If he comes back he must face justice."

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