January 16, 2001

Chile's top court turns down Italian
extradition request


                  SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Chile's Supreme Court turned down on Tuesday an
                  Italian request for the extradition of a secret police chief who was convicted of a
                  1975 assassination attempt in Rome.

                  The ruling upheld a previous decision by Chief Justice Hernan Alvarez to deny
                  the extradition of retired Gen. Manuel Contreras, who headed the secret police
                  under former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

                  Contreras was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in jail by an Italian court for the
                  attempted assassination of Bernardo Leighton, a former Chilean vice president
                  and prominent foe of the 1973-90 Pinochet's military regime.

                  Leighton and his wife, Anita Fresno, were shot and seriously wounded as they
                  strolled through Rome, where they lived in exile. Investigators traced the attempt
                  to Pinochet's feared secret police, known as DINA, which Contreras
                  commanded at the time. The court ruled that there was not evidence of the
                  security service in the attack.

                  Leighton has since died and his widow is still alive.

                  Contreras is to complete a seven-year prison term next week in Chile for the
                  1976 assassination in Washington of Orlando Letelier, another prominent
                  Pinochet opponent. Letelier was killed along with an American aide, Ronni
                  Moffitt, when a bomb blew up the car they were in. The assassination was also
                  traced to DINA.