Letter: Pinochet ruling

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The Independent Culture
In yesterday's ruling quashing the request for the extradition of Agusto Pinochet, Lord Chief Justice Bingham upheld the principle "that one sovereign state will not impugn another in relation to its sovereign acts".

Are we to take it that the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Chilean government in 1973 was a sovereign act? The torture and murder of Michael Woodward, a British priest, and the torture of Sheila Cassidy, a British doctor, must also have been sovereign acts. The 94 people, including the Swiss student Alexei Jaccard, cited in Judge Baltasar Garzon's extradition request were presumably all victims of sovereign acts.

Never mind that the Criminal Justice Act of 1988, which incorporates the 1984 Convention Against Torture, makes torture a crime wherever it is committed and whatever the nationalities involved.

The European Convention on Terrorism requires Britain to extradite Pinochet.


Annemasse, France