Judge laments 'failure of justice' over Pinochet

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The Spanish judge who tried to extradite the former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet from Britain said yesterday that the case was a failure of international justice.

Judge Baltasar Garzon said: "Perhaps we would have liked to have tried Pinochet so victims would have received the compensation and reparation of a sentence. Unfortunately it has not been this way."

Pinochet died on Sunday, aged 91, provoking protests in Chile from opponents who wanted him tried for killings and human rights abuses during his 17-year regime. More than 3,000 people died or disappeared and 28,000 were tortured during his rule.

Judge Garzon issued an international arrest warrant against Pinochet in 1998 while the former dictator was in Britain, accusing him of genocide. The British Government ruled that he could not be extradited to Spain because he was unfit to stand trial.

Judge Garzon said other former dictators, like the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, died before being punished. Milosevic died of heart failure in March while on trial.

The Spanish judge said that even though Pinochet had not been extradited for allegedly murdering hundreds of Spaniards, court action in the United States had retrieved $9m (£4.6m) which the former dictator had spirited away.

The money has gone to his victims through the Foundation Salvador Allende. President Allende was killed when his democratically elected government was overthrown in 1973.

Mr Allende's daughter, Isabel Allende, speaking while on a visit to Spain yesterday, said: "We didn't want vengeance, but justice," adding: "I wish there had been a ruling, I wish he had been condemned."