Pinochet judge in charity flap
LONDON - A judge who ruled Gen. Augusto Pinochet does not have
immunity from arrest is a director of a charity run by Amnesty
International, the group campaigning for the former Chilean dictator to
face charges of genocide and murder acknowledged Tuesday.
The controversy over Lord Justice Leonard Hoffmann's links to Amnesty
International was the latest twist in the tug-of-war over Pinochet, who was
arrested in London on Oct. 16 on a Spanish warrant.
Pinochet supporters Tuesday stepped up the pressure on Britain to refuse
Spain's request for his extradition, demonstrating outside Prime Minister
Tony Blair's Downing Street office.
''Take your hands out of Chile!'' they shouted.
''We are widows of members of the armed forces and policemen that
were killed in terrorist attacks by Marxist terrorist groups in Chile,'' said
Veronica Vallejos, who handed in a letter on behalf of 700 families
urging Britain to send the 83-year-old general home.
Home Secretary Jack Straw must decide by Friday whether extradition
proceedings can go ahead, following the 3-2 ruling Nov. 25 by five
judges of Britain's highest court, the House of Lords, against Pinochet.
Pinochet is awaiting Straw's decision under police guard in a rented mansion
Wentworth, 20 miles west of London.
A Chilean government report says 3,197 people were murdered or disappeared
the hands of the secret police during Pinochet's 1973-90 rule after he overthrew
Salvador Allende, an elected Marxist. But Chile's government wants him back, partly
to avoid exacerbating domestic tensions and threatening the country's newly built democracy.
Amnesty International said Hoffmann, an opponent of apartheid who
settled in Britain in the '60s after moving from his native South Africa,
has served since 1990 as the unpaid director and chairman of Amnesty
International Charity Ltd. which gets donations for work on human
His wife, Gillian, also a South African, is a secretary in Amnesty
International's press office in London.
Hoffmann, 64, and his wife had no involvement in the Pinochet
campaign, said Amnesty International spokeswoman Soraya Bermejo.
She accused Pinochet supporters of trying to divert attention from the
basic issue of whether the former dictator should be tried.
''There are many lawyers who have links with human rights
organizations,'' Bermejo said.
''In fact, when Lord Hoffmann was appointed to this case we saw him
as being slightly unpredictable on a human rights,'' she added, noting
that he recently ruled against a man sentenced to death sentence in the
Bahamas, a former colony which allows appeals to Britain's highest
In the Pinochet case, the five judges - in an usual move - allowed
lawyers for Amnesty International to make representations.
By The Associated Press