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Pinochet case: Amnesty International in High Court Wednesday for Pinochet hearing

'It is in the public interest to ensure that the procedure used to

determine whether a person is fit to be extradited or to stand trial is

conducted in a fair and transparent manner. We believe that this has not

been the case in this instance and will be presenting our arguments to the

High Court,' Amnesty International said.

'We want to ensure that any decision by the Home Secretary, Jack

Straw, is a fully informed and correct one. Our organisations are

concerned that politics might be influencing the way this case is being

handled both in the UK and Spain, and we have therefore decided that a

judicial review should be carried out, in the interest of the victims.'

'The victims risk losing their right to reparation for the violations

they suffered. This should be about justice, not politics,' Amnesty

International stressed.

The request for judicial review to be presented by the human rights

organisations to the High Court will highlight the following key concerns:

1. Unfair procedure:

* failure to notify the requesting states (those seeking extradition) of

procedure and criteria before medical examination, thus denying them

the opportunity to contest the procedure;

* failure to permit the interested parties, including requesting states,

to have observers present;

* failure to condition the medical examination on consent to release of

the medical records to the other parties and any further examination

required by their experts;

* failure to provide medical records to the interested parties,

including the states;

* failure to permit cross-examination of medical experts;

* failure to permit requesting states to appoint their own medical

experts to conduct new examinations in accordance with accepted

medical standards;

2. Unfair procedure could lead to a wrong decision:

* the composition of the medical panel did not include experts on

old-age psychiatry;

* the short period of observation and the setting may have been

insufficient to determine unequivocally that Augusto Pinochet is unfit

to undergo further judicial proceedings;

Questions have also been raised concerning contrary evidence of

Augusto Pinochet's medical condition -- including a reported statement

by the a Chilean judge saying: 'I know reliably that Pinochet's mental

faculties are perfect. I know that from his own lawyers.'

'Augusto Pinochet has the same rights as any other person to all legal

mechanisms available -- including making a legal case that he is unfit

to face extradition. No individual who is determined by a court to be

unfit to participate in an extradition proceeding should have to do

so,' Amnesty International said.

'However, the procedure used by the Home Secretary to form his

preliminary opinion concerning Augusto Pinochet's mental condition was

unfair,' the organisation stressed.

'Given that the Home Secretary, as he himself has said, is considering

this in his 'quasi-judicial role', he is bound to comply with the

principles of fair process. The concerns we will be presenting to the

High Court show that he has failed to do so.'

The human rights organisations will therefore request an order by the

court quashing the Home Secretary's decision of 18th January to

exercise his discretion not to extradite Augusto Pinochet without

acceding to the requests of the organizations that he should:

make the medical report available to all interested parties;

allow the interested parties the opportunity to nominate appropriate

experts to assess Augusto Pinochet's medical condition.

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