PARIS -- A French
judge on Monday issued an international warrant for the arrest of Chile's
former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who is under police guard in a London hospital awaiting a
ruling on an arrest warrant from Spain.
The French warrant
was issued by investigating Judge Roger Leloire in connection with his
investigation into the disappearance of Frenchmen Marcel Amiel-Baquet, Rene Chanfreau and
Etienne Pesle during Pinochet's rule in the 1970s.
was ordered last week by the Paris state prosecutors' office which must
formally demand Pinochet's provisional arrest pending a formal request for his extradition.
Justice authorities said they expected the prosecutors' office to act within 48 hours.
The judge's action
set off a race against the clock with the House of Lords, the upper house
British parliament, which will hear an appeal on Wednesday of a judgment by London's High Court
which found last week that Pinochet was immune from prosecution and should thus be freed.
Pinochet has been released on bail pending the appeal.
The House of
Lords is expected to issue its ruling on Wednesday or Thursday on the validity
Spanish arrest warrant against Pinochet on the grounds of torture and genocide.
Should the House
of Lords decide to throw out the Spanish warrant and free Pinochet before
French arrest order arrives, the former general would probably leave Britain immediately and render
the French judicial action irrelevant.
William Bourdon, representing the families of Amiel-Baquet and Chanfreau,
freeing Pinochet would harm Britain's image.
"The House of
Lords has an enormous responsibility. If they decide to release him on
benefits from diplomatic immunity, they will look like supporters of the most bloodthirsty of
torturers... The European community would judge this very harshly," he said.
arrested in London on October 16 after undergoing medical treatment. His
based on on a warrant from Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.
or lawyers in several other European countries are also trying to bring
82-year-old general to book, including Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Belgium and
In addition to
an arrest warrant, the French judge also issued a series of questions for
These would also be formally transmitted to London, to be asked by British police on France's
behalf should they arrive while Pinochet was still there.
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company