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Straw Urged to Reveal Pinochet Data
(London, January 18, 2000) - Human Rights Watch today urged British Home Secretary Jack Straw to make Augusto Pinochet's medical records available to Spain and the other countries seeking his extradition.

In letter to the Home Secretary, who had invited the group to make written submissions, Human Rights Watch asked that any final decision be delayed until Spain, Belgium, France and Switzerland had a chance toevaluate the records.


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"The efforts of four states to prosecute General Pinochet for the most serious international crimes are being halted on the basis of secret evidence. This not only violates the United Kingdom's legal obligations, but it is also unworthy of the strict and principled adherence to the rule of law shown by Britain thus far in the case."

Reed Brody
Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch

"The efforts of four states to prosecute General Pinochet for the most serious international crimes are being halted on the basis of secret evidence," said Reed Brody, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch. "This not only violates the United Kingdom's legal obligations, but it is also unworthy of the strict and principled adherence to the rule of law shown by Britain thus far in the case."

Human Rights Watch noted that pursuant to the United Nations Convention against Torture, the United Kingdom is required to extradite or prosecute General Pinochet. Any exception to that obligation based on Pinochet's incapacity to stand trial must be capable of objective assesment, the group asserted.

The organization recognized that the right to a fair trial implies a defendant's fitness, but it emphasized that it is not enough that an accused is sick or has a long term-illness, even one which might eventually be fatal. "The thousands of people killed or 'disappeared' by General Pinochet's forces would have loved one day to become old and sick," said Brody. Rather, said the group, the test is whether an accused has sufficient intellectual capacity to instruct his counsel, to understand the evidence, and to give evidence.

The organization cited the French cases of pro-Nazi war criminals Klaus Barbie, Paul Touvier, and Maurice Papon, all of whom were of advanced age when their prosecution commenced; Papon was quite ill during the course of his trial. Despite this, none of the three was excused from standing trial and each was sentenced to terms in prison.

For Further Information, Contact:
New York: Reed Brody 1-212-216-1206 [English, Spanish, French]
Santiago, Chile: Josť Miguel Vivanco 569-332-2406 (mobile) [Spanish, English]

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