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Pinochet to Appeal Immunity Ruling

BY Admin  May 25, 2000 at 3:50 PM EDT

Judges of Santiago’s Appeals Court voted Tuesday whether to strip the former army commander of the immunity he enjoys as a senator-for-life, but are keeping that decision secret until all 22 judges sign a written version of the verdict. Court officials say that could take up to two weeks.

Reports that the judges moved to strip Pinochet of his immunity were widespread in Chilean media. An unconfirmed report Wednesday in the Chilean newspaperEl Mercurio said the vote to remove Pinochet’s immunity was 13 judges to nine.

If Pinochet’s immunity is revoked, the former military dictator could be put on trial for alleged human rights abuses, including the murder, kidnapping and torture of thousands of Chileans.

If his immunity remains intact, human rights lawyers say there would be little chance Pinochet would end up in court. More than 100 civil suits have been filed against the former dictator.

Pinochet rose to power in Chile after a military coup in 1973 and ruled until he was voted out of office in 1990.

He was arrested in London in 1998 on a Spanish warrant, but was released in 1999 on grounds of ill health before Spanish authorities could extradite him to stand trial.