Pinochet: Better late than never
A Chilean court has stripped former military dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, of his immunity from prosecution on human rights charges. Pinochet could be prosecuted for 108 different criminal charges lodged against him. "Very good news", said Lorena Pizarro, the head of an association for the relatives of victims of the repression suffered by the Chilean people during Pinochet's rule. "We are happy now, but we remain alert because the next step must be for the dictator to go to jail and pay for all the crimes for which he is responsible", she said. More than 3000 people were killed or disappeared under Pinochet's rule. In this period among many other crimes, military officers toured the country hauling political activists from jail cells, torturing and executing them. It became known as the "Caravan of Death". Pinochet has been able to avoid prosecution for many years claiming that he suffered from diabetes, arthritis and a mild case of dementia. For a time he was detained in Britain following a visit to London for medical treatment but the Labour Government's then home secretary, Jack Straw, ruled that he should not be extradited. An appeal by Pinochet against the court's decision is still likely but the recent decision shows that Pinochet is neither physically nor mentally unfit to stand trial. He recently took part in a Chilean TV interview.