September 14, 2002

Ex-Chilean general arrested in Argentina

                 BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Police arrested a retired Chilean army
                 general on Friday for alleged involvement in human rights abuses stemming
                 from the 1973 coup in Chile, justice officials said.

                 Luis Ramirez P ineda, 77, was detained at a Buenos Aires hotel on an international

                 Pineda was wanted in Europe in connection with the death and possible torture of a
                 French doctor captured during the bombardment of La Moneda, Chile's
                 government palace.

                 Ramirez is the first official to be arrested as part of attempts by a French judge to
                 prosecute 15 former military officials suspected of being human rights offenders
                 during Pinochet's 1973 to 1990 dictatorship that left 3,100 dead and another 1,000

                 Ramirez was a lieutenant colonel at the time of the September 11, 1973, coup that
                 toppled elected president Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist who perished during
                 the palace assault.

                 But Georges Klein Pipper, a 27-year-old French psychiatrist, was among 24 people
                 close to Allende who were captured by troops at the palace, bound and taken away
                 in army trucks.

                 An official report issued after the restoration of democracy's in 1990 said Ramirez
                 was commander of the Tacna army regiment in Santiago where the detainees were
                 taken for two days before their disappearance.

                 Ramirez's extradition will now be decided by Argentine officials who tend not to
                 extradite non-citizens for reasons of territoriality and national sovereignty.

                 "This will be a very interesting test for the Argentine courts," said Sebastian Brett of
                 Human Rights Watch America in Chile. "It's not so difficult for people to get
                 arrested. It's more difficult issue whether the courts will go through with the
                 extradition process."

                 French Judge Roger Le Loire, who issued the warrants against Ramirez and the 15
                 others, is examining accusations involving the disappearances of a five French
                 citizens who disappeared in Chile during Pinochet's regime.

                 The 15 included retired Gen. Manuel Contreras, Pinochet's security chief, and Paul
                 Schafer Schneider, former leader of Dignity Colony, a secretive German enclave in
                 southern Chile that allegedly served as a detention center, a French judicial source
                 said on condition of anonymity.

                 Attention on Chile's human rights abuses had diminished after Pinochet has eluded
                 prosecution at home and abroad in recent years.

                 In 2000, Pinochet was indicted on homicide and kidnapping charges in one of the
                 most notorious cases, the so-called "Caravan of Death" in which a military squad
                 executed 75 political prisoners shortly after the coup.

                 In July 2001 the charges were dropped by Chile's Supreme Court, which ruled that
                 Pinochet, 86, was mentally and physically unfit to stand trial. Pinochet's lawyers
                 say he suffers from dementia, besides other ailments.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.