Pinochet backed by old ally Bush

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THE FORMER US President George Bush has added his name to the list of international statesmen calling on the Government to block the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet to Spain.

With Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, due to announce his decision on the case on Friday, Mr Bush has declared that charges against the former Chilean dictator represent "a travesty of justice". In a letter to Lord Lamont of Lerwick, the Conservative peer leading the British campaign on behalf of General Pinochet, Mr Bush said he should be sent home to Chile "as soon as possible".

Mr Bush worked closely with the Pinochet regime when he was director of the CIA in the 1970s. Lord Lamont said that Mr Straw should now listen to the series of world figures who had called for the extradition application to be rejected.

"Kissinger, Lady Thatcher, the Pope and now George Bush have all indicated that General Pinochet should be sent home to Chile. It's time for the Government to bring this farce to an end," he said.

However, Widney Brown, of the New York-based Human Rights Watch group, said Mr Bush's comments were out of step with a wide section of legal and political opinion abroad. "It is not a travesty of justice. What is a travesty is the lack of accountability for the crime committed," she said.