Pinochet affair: Cassidy ready to give evidence

Ex-dictator's British victim prepared to testify against him
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The Independent Online
A BRITISH doctor who suffered repeated sadistic torture under General Augusto Pinochet's brutal regime in Chile more than 20 years ago said she would be prepared to give evidence against him if he was brought to trial.

Dr Sheila Cassidy, now 61, was speaking at Derriford hospital, Plymouth, where she works with cancer patients.

"I would certainly be prepared to give evidence. I have already given evidence to tribunals in Helsinki and at the United Nations, so it would be no problem."

Dr Cassidy, who was 38 when she was seized by Pinochet's men while working at a hospital in the Chilean capital, Santiago, said it was important that he was brought to justice. "I think it is particularly important for the families of those who have died, and who have been tortured.

"I think there are a lot of unhappy people who think to let Pinochet go would be monstrous - and they are the people for whom it matters. I think imprisonment for the rest of his life would be appropriate," she said. "I know he is an old man and he is fragile. But then so were the pregnant women who were raped and tortured."

"Dictatorships pay no attention to age or femininity or fragility. I think Pinochet should be humanely detained for the rest of his life,"

Dr Cassidy was held in Chile after treating a man who was on the run from Pinochet, but someone betrayed her. She was stripped naked, tied to a metal bunk frame, given repeated electric-shock torture and held in solitary confinement for three weeks. She was released from imprisonment after two months, following intervention by the British government.

Baroness Thatcher welcomed General Pinochet to her London home only 11 days before his arrest, it was reported last night. According to The Mirror newspaper, the general has been a regular visitor to Britain in the past and was said to have often called on the ex-prime minister at her home. The two developed their friendship during the Falklands conflict.

No one from Lady Thatcher's office was available for comment on the report.