Pinochet: Straw kidnapped me

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THE FORMER Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet last night launched a fierce attack on the British Government, accusing Home Secretary Jack Straw of "treason" and international kidnap.

Following his dramatic denial of human rights crimes at Belmarsh top security magistrates' court on Friday, the 83-year-old General claimed, through former Chilean finance minister Sergio De Castro, that he was being kept a prisoner in Britain and branded Tony Blair as "untrustworthy".

However, in a later statement, Patrick Robertson, adviser to General Pinochet, said: "The sentiments expressed by Sergio De Castro are his own, and Senator Pinochet has no comment."

De Castro told the Sunday Mirror that the General had said: "I am the victim of a treason. I was invited to Britain by the Government and I was officially received by the British Government. The men behind this are no more than criminals. Jack Straw is no more than a kidnapper in that sense. And how can Tony Blair ever be trusted? Now I know all the time they were plotting behind my back to arrest me in an illegal action under international law. They have kidnapped me and are now holding me illegally against my will."

The former dictator paints a bleak view of his current home on the exclusive private estate at Wentworth, Surrey - where his neighbours include showbusiness stars Bruce Forsyth and Russ Abbot.

"I've got to live in two small rooms and I wasn't even allowed out into the garden. I'm sad that I will not be able to be with all my family for Christmas. I can't expect everyone to come over I have a very big family."

He also criticised the British legal system, saying his case had been "handled very strangely. At first the High Court ruled that my arrest wasn't legal. Then the judge reversed the decision saying that he'd been pressured into making the decision because it was late at night. This means that British justice can be bent depending on what time of day it is."

At Friday's hearing General Pinochet denounced allegations of human rights crimes against him. In a highly-charged outburst he told magistrates "With respect to your Honour, I do not recognise the jurisdiction of any other court, except in my country, to try me against all the lies of Spain."

The next hearing on the Spanish extradition request will be held on 18 January at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London.

Phil Davison, page 16