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Judge Pursuing Pinochet Seeks New Health Test

January 15, 2000|From Associated Press

MADRID — The Spanish judge pursuing Gen. Augusto Pinochet asked Friday for a fresh medical exam to determine if the former Chilean dictator is mentally fit to stand trial.

The petition came three days after doctors in Britain said that Pinochet, 84, is too physically ill for trial. British officials gave other countries involved in the case a week to submit responses.

Judge Baltasar Garzon's petition argued that new medical tests should be carried out in the presence of representatives from Madrid's National Court. He also contended that Pinochet's ability to stand trial should be based on his mental fitness, not physical illness or age.

The petition cited several examples of elderly defendants, such as Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, who were deemed fit to stand trial despite physical ailments.

Pinochet has been detained in London since October 1998 on a warrant from Garzon, who has been trying to bring the general to Spain for trial for alleged human rights abuses during his 1973-90 dictatorship.

A move to extradite Pinochet to Spain initially won court approval.

Garzon's petition was forwarded to Spain's justice and foreign ministries, which will determine whether to pass it on to Britain.

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