Letter: Tyrant on trial

Click to follow
Sir; In the wake of the decision of the Law Lords that the Spanish request for extradition of General Pinochet can go forward, a number of Conservative MPs have used various media platforms to draw an analogy between Pinochet and republican and loyalist prisoners in Northern Ireland released early under the Good Friday agreement. They have tried to construct an argument that deals made as part of wider political settlements should be allowed to stand without the intervention of foreign judges or governments.

They must not get away with this. In terms of no less a fundamental principle than the rule of law itself, it does not stand up to scrutiny. In the case of the Northern Ireland terrorists, though not in that of Pinochet, the law has rightly taken its course. They did not, unlike Pinochet, grant immunity to themselves. Indeed, unlike Pinochet, they have not been granted immunity at all. Unlike Pinochet they have all stood trial; unlike Pinochet they have all been convicted; unlike Pinochet, they have all served time and their convictions stand.

It is to be hoped that Jack Straw will not be seduced by such spurious arguments.