Chile minister upsets Spain

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The Independent Online
THE CHILEAN Foreign Minister, Jose Miguel Insulza, was due to travel to Spain today in his continuing bid to stop the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet.

Mr Insulza, who suggested that General Pinochet would not receive a fair trial in Spain, is expected to meet the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, tomorrow to try to persuade him to drop Spain's extradition request for General Pinochet to face trial for genocide, torture and terrorism.

Mr Insulza has said it must be up to Chile to decide the general's fate, while promising he would not escape blame if found guilty of human rights abuses. In television interviews, Mr Insulza insisted that there was no general immunity against the 83-year-old former dictator and that the 14 charges against him would be thoroughly investigated.

Mr Aznar said his government would show "common sense and, of course, strict observance of the judicial process" after British law lords lifted General Pinochet's immunity last week.

Mr Insulza said, in London at the weekend: "I don't have the impression that Augusto Pinochet would have great guarantees of impartiality in Spain." The remarks were indignantly splashed across the front pages of Spanish newspapers yesterday. They will convince Spaniards favouring extradition - a majority, according to surveys - that General Pinochet would probably go free if allowed home.

Mr Insulza is expected to twist Mr Aznar's arm, however, by referring to the well-being of 40,000 Spaniards in Chile, and to commercial links, especially arms deals.

The Chilean navy is reported to have threatened to cut Spanish shipyards out of a pounds 260m deal to build two submarines for Chile.