Flat Earth: The net tightens

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The Independent Online
GENERAL Augusto Pinochet seems to have a depressingly large number of supporters in some places, but not, it appears, among the world's net- surfers.

Lawyers working on Judge Baltasar Garzon's request for the old brute's extradition, faced with thousands of documents to translate into English, found that Spain's National Court had only two official translators. This threatened to gum up the whole proceedings until someone thought of appealing for help through the internet.

The response was "fantastic" said one of the lawyers, Juan Puig. "We received a massive response from legal translators, university departments and international translating organisations from the US, Britain, France, Argentina, Chile, Holland, even Australia, from people volunteering to work gratis as a gesture of support."

The British courts may not, in the end, require quite the tonnage of translated pages as was initially feared. But one e-mail message, typical of thousands, said: "We are glad to contribute to a task like this in international solidarity." Mr Puig called it "a great encouragement", but I fear the men in wigs may not be swayed.