The Miami Herald
November 10, 1998
U.S. officials: Evidence lacking on Pinochet

             From Herald Staff and Wire Reports

             WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration has no hard evidence that former
             Chilean President Augusto Pinochet is responsible for crimes for which he would
             be subject to extradition to the United States, U.S. officials said Monday.

             The officials commented following disclosure that informal discussions had begun
             at the Justice Department to determine whether there was a basis for a U.S. effort
             to extradite Pinochet if the Spanish initiative fails.

             Pinochet is under police guard in Britain pending a review by the House of Lords
             of a Spanish request for his extradition on genocide charges.

             When the Spanish extradition request was filed last month, the United States had
             no comment except to say it was a matter to be decided by Spanish and British
             legal and governmental authorities.

             The Miami Herald reported Saturday that officials in the Justice Department,
             National Security Council and State Department were discussing the possibility of
             seeking Pinochet's extradition. The discussions about Pinochet focused on the
             1976 assassination on a Washington street of Orlando Letelier, a leftist Chilean
             opponent of Pinochet, and an American associate of Letelier.

             A U.S. investigation at the time concluded that the conspiracy to kill Letelier
             involved eight people, including the chief of Pinochet's secret police. But last week
             Lawrence Barcella, the former prosecutor in the case, told The Herald it was
             ``inconceivable'' that Pinochet was not involved.

             In London, meanwhile, lawyers fighting Pinochet's extradition to Spain told
             Britain's highest court that Chile alone should be allowed to decide his fate.

             Attorney Clare Montgomery warned that Pinochet's arrest and detention
             threatened the stability of Chile and, therefore, that the panel of five Law Lords
             must strike a ``delicate balance'' between demands for justice and Chile's need for
             national reconciliation.

             ``We submit that your lordships will be expressing a view on the internal
             arrangements which assured a peaceful transition to democracy,'' Montgomery

             She noted that at least 11 lawsuits are pending against Pinochet in Chile, stemming
             from the death or disappearance of more than 3,000 people during his 17-year
             rule, and that the courts there should determine whether he is entitled to immunity
             as a senator for life.

             ``Countries must be allowed to arrange their own affairs,'' Montgomery said,
             adding that to deny Pinochet immunity would be to encourage future despots to
             remain in power.

             Herald staff writer Frank Davies in Washington contributed to this report.


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