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Sources: army stance led Pinochet to agree to tests

Former dictator agrees to legal interrogation


In this story:

'Death Caravan' questioning set

Judge says he's been pressured

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



SANTIAGO, Chile -- Former Chilean leader Gen. Augusto Pinochet is to undergo psychological tests on Wednesday to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial for alleged human rights abuses committed during his dictatorship, a judge said Tuesday.

The 85-year-old Pinochet, who was in power from 1973-1990, failed to appear on Sunday and Monday for psychological tests, which Judge Juan Guzman had scheduled.

Pinochet, however, had a change of heart after Ricardo Izurieta, the army commander-in-chief, told him that the army would withdraw support for him if he did not undergo the exams, legal sources said. The army has not said why it supposedly wants him examined.

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Guzman said the tests will run through Saturday. They will take place at Santiago's Military Hospital.

Pinochet, like all Chileans over the age of 70, has the right to a psychological examination that gives him the opportunity to avoid trial if he is declared insane.

'Death Caravan' interrogation set

Pinochet also agreed to undergo a legal interrogation about the kidnapping and killing of about 77 political prisoners in 1973, his attorneys said. Guzman, who is leading an investigation into more than 200 cases of Pinochet-era human rights abuses, plans to interrogate Pinochet on Monday about his possible involvement.

If Pinochet had not agreed to the interrogation, the judge could have ordered him arrested and indicted for contempt.

In December, Guzman ordered Pinochet placed under house arrest for allegedly planning the disappearances of the leftists, victims of the "Death Caravan" -- a military squad that emerged after Pinochet seized power in a 1973 military coup from democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. Allende died during the coup.

But Pinochet was released December 20, when the Supreme Court ruled he should have been interrogated before his arrest.

Judge says he's been pressured

Although Pinochet had been a no-show at the initially scheduled exams, Guzman told local television he rescheduled the exams to give the retired general "a second chance."

"Undoubtedly advised by lawyers who were bad advisers, the general did not go to the clinic the other day, so I set a new date for the exams," Guzman said. "Once the exams are done, I will interrogate him."

Guzman said he has been pressured, although he did not say from whom. "I doubt they will dare to pressure me more because I am not a judge who is able to be influenced," he said.

More than 3,000 people died or disappeared and are presumed dead because of political violence under Pinochet's rule.

Pinochet was detained in Britain in October 1998 at the request of a Spanish judge who wanted to try him on charges of torture. He spent 503 days under house arrest before being allowed to return home after the British home secretary ruled he was too old and sick to be put on trial.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Chile's Pinochet fails to appear for mental evaluation
January 7, 2001
Chilean court overturns Pinochet indictment
December 20, 2000
Chilean Supreme Court could rule on Pinochet case this week
December 18, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Amnesty International: Pinochet
Pinochet Foundation (in Spanish)
Chile President (in Spanish)
Human Rights Watch: The Pinochet Prosecution
UK Home Office
Pinochet Victim's Page
Chile: Trial Against Pinochet in Spain

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