April 12, 1999
Former U.S. President Bush urges Pinochet release

                  LONDON (Reuters) -- Former U.S. President George Bush has called for
                  ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to be freed from house arrest in
                  Britain and allowed to return home, the Times newspaper reported on

                  The newspaper said Bush's remarks came in a letter to Lord Lamont, an
                  opposition Conservative member of Britain's upper parliamentary chamber,
                  the House of Lords.

                  Bush said the case against the former dictator was a "travesty of justice" and
                  added: "General Pinochet should be returned to Chile as soon as possible."

                  A Spanish judge sought Pinochet's extradition to face trial on charges of
                  murder, torture and hostage-taking of over 3,000 people, dozens of them
                  Spaniards, during witchhunts against leftists in the 1970s and 1980s.

                  British Home Secretary (interior minister) Jack Straw is expected to decide
                  by April 15 whether extradition proceedings against Pinochet should start
                  after Britain's top court ruled -- for the second time -- that his arrest in
                  London last October 16 was legal.

                  Since his arrest, Pinochet has been under house arrest near London.

                  Last month's decision by the Law Lords, as the court is called, said Pinochet
                  could only face extradition to Spain on charges of torture after 1988, when
                  Britain incorporated an international torture convention into law.

                  The same convention says prosecutors can consider filing charges in Britain
                  if an accused torturer is not extradited.

                  Straw said last December 9 that extradition proceedings against Pinochet,
                  who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, could begin.

                  But he agreed to reconsider this after the Law Lords' ruling, which by
                  focusing on the 1988 cut-off date dramatically reduced the number of draft
                  charges against Pinochet.

                  Only three of 32 draft charges which Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon initially
                  sent to Britain -- one torture charge and two charges of conspiracy to
                  torture -- involved events after 1988.

                  Recently, the Spanish judge sent to Britain details of over 40 more torture
                  cases dating from after 1988.

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.