A chef cries over Pinochet

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The Independent Online
RUTH ROGERS, co-owner of The River Cafe, favourite of New Labour and the "canteen'' of the more fashionable government ministers, has revealed the full horror of realising that she had cooked risotto for General Pinochet.

"I didn't know he was here. We thought it was probably just another royal family with their bodyguards. They were all chatting away in Spanish while I cooked in the kitchen," she told The Daily Telegraph. "At the end, a barman came up and said: 'Do you realise that's Pinochet?' My blood went cold. I was in tears. Cooking is about giving pleasure, and I'd poured my heart into this dictator's risotto."

The incident happened four years ago when the general was on an earlier visit to London. Yesterday his wife spoke at a press conference in London, appealing to God and the Virgin Mary to save her husband from facing charges of genocide.

Lucia Hirart, whose 82-year-old husband is now in a north London psychiatric hospital, said in Spanish: "I feel great anguish. Many sad days have passed since my husband's arrest [on 16 October]. My own health - physically and mentally - has been damaged."

She added that her husband's current predicament had slowed the recovery from his recent operation, and that he looked forward to being able to explain to the Chilean people the recent events that had taken place in London.

General Pinochet has been granted bail on condition that he remains at his London hospital under police guard. The House of Lords hears an appeal on Wednesday, lodged by the Crown Prosecution Service against the High Court's quashing of the general's arrest.

Meanwhile, Spain's National Court has upheld the attempt of a Spanish judge to extradite the general.

The court ruled that Spain's courts do indeed have the right to try him for crimes committed in Chile while he was the head of state. Scores of relatives of victims of Pinochet's military dictatorship jumped from their seats in the court shouting: "Justice, justice."

A Briton in Chile, page 22

Geoffrey Robertson, page 28