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This letter to the Home Secretary, anticipating that a medical assessment might be of pivotal importance by over a year, emphasised that medical panel's independence must be beyond dispute.
26/10/98

To:
The Rt Hon Jack Straw. MP

Dear Home Secretary

I write to express the concern of my organisation that a just consideration is seen to be given to any medical questions concerning General Pinochet’s extradition.

General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was arrested on the night of October 16th in response to an international arrest warrant issued by Judge Garzon of Spain. This was followed by an extradition request by Spain, based on charges of crimes committed against Spanish nationals while they were living in Chile. I understand that a similar extradition request has been received from Switzerland.

Although both the UN Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have made it clear that impunity procedures are in violation of a State’s obligations under their respective human rights treaties, General Pinochet is protected from prosecution in Chile by the so-called Amnesty Law, which is in effect a self-amnesty enacted by Pinochet's military government. For this reason, he can only be held accountable outside his own country.

Ultimately, as Home Secretary, you will be required to decide whether or not General Pinochet is extradited. As he was apprehended in hospital following an operation, and as he is 82 you may need to establish that his health is robust enough to tolerate extradition and any subsequent court proceedings. Taking into account the gravity of the charges laid against him, the intensity of the international interest and his self imposed impunity in Chile, we respectfully insist that any credible assessment of his health status be carried out by a demonstrably objective and independent panel of high calibre medical specialists in whatever speciality or specialities pertain.

Yours sincerely

Dr Peter Hall

MBBS, MRCPI, DGM

Chair, PHR-UK

cc. Tony Blair MP and Robin Cook MP

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