September 25, 1999

Chile says it can handle its own human rights abusers

                  UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- As former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto
                  Pinochet awaits a Spanish attempt to try him for human rights abuses
                  committed by his government, Chile said Saturday it would prefer to punish
                  its human rights violators itself.

                  Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, was arrested in London last
                  year on a Spanish warrant. He remains under house arrest in Britain pending
                  a decision on whether to extradite him to Spain.

                  An official Chilean report says 3,197 people disappeared or were killed
                  under Pinochet's regime. Spaniards were among the victims.

                  Chilean Foreign Minister Juan Gabriel Valdes did not mention Pinochet's
                  name in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday.

                  But he said the system of global justice is in "a phase in which the norms of
                  jurisdiction are not clear and are subject to many different interpretations,
                  including the most arbitrary and misplaced."

                  The prosecution of human rights abusers in Chile had caused severe strains
                  in Chilean society, he said. He noted that other new democracies have
                  avoided such tensions by not prosecuting former abusers.

                  "In these circumstances, what grounds could the justice system of a third
                  state have for exercising jurisdiction in respect of acts which are currently the
                  subject of proceedings in the state in which those acts were committed?"
                  Valdes asked.

                  "In Chile, there is no denial of justice," he said. "We do not accept impunity
                  for violations of human rights."

                  On Thursday, Chile's Supreme Court upheld the indictments of two former
                  Pinochet security chiefs for the 1982 assassination of a dissident labor

                  One of the men is the highest-ranking retired officer tried so far for human
                  rights violations under Pinochet's military dictatorship. He was a member of
                  the four-man military junta and chief of the dictatorship's feared secret