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Human Rights Watch rejected today's ruling by Britain's High Court that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was immune from prosecution for acts committed as head of state.

"Beginning with the Nazi leaders tried at Nuremberg, the international community has consistently held government officials responsible for crimes against humanity," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "This principle was re-affirmed this year when the former Rwandan prime minister was held guilty of genocide by an international court."

The Nuremberg Principles state that "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as a Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

"These international principles exist precisely for situations in which countries are unable to bring government leaders to justice for crimes against humanity," said Roth.

Official Chilean investigations have confirmed that more than 3,100 people were victims of extrajudicial execution or "disappearance." Thousands of others were victims of torture, arbitrary detention, forced internal exile, or other abuses.

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