Protesters Challenge Britain's Decision to Extradite PinochetAired January 18, 2000 - 1:18 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Today was the deadline for human rights groups to make their case for prosecuting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for abuses he allegedly ordered or oversaw. The government of Britain, where Pinochet has been under police guard for 15 months, is leaning toward dropping the whole matter.
CNN London bureau chief Tom Mintier joins us now -- Tom.
TOM MINTIER, CNN LONDON BUREAU CHIEF: Natalie, at this hour, a Chilean Air Force jet is in the air on the way from a base just north of Santiago for London. Whether there'll be a passenger waiting for them when they arrive is an open question.
About an hour and 15 minutes ago, the deadline set by Home Secretary Jack Straw for people to file in opposition to his releasing General Pinochet has passed, and two groups did, indeed, file objections saying that the medical tests carried out by the government were not sufficient and they have not been made public so how can they mount a defense against it? Lawyers for the groups opposed to Pinochet being released from custody and allowed to return to Santiago say that more tests need to be needed and specialist need to be called in, especially those dealing with the issue of senility.
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GEOFFREY BINDMAN, APPELLANTS' LAWYER: Undoubtedly, the doctors who did carry out the examination are eminent and no one challenges their good faith. And no one can challenge Jack Straw's good faith in relying on these people, but there is inevitably a suspicion that something has gone wrong somewhere in the system when a person with the right medical expertise has not taken part in the examination.
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MINTIER: General Pinochet has been held under house arrest now for nearly 15 months. And when you look at him over the months, you can see his condition on the outside, on the surface, at least, as deteriorated. The last time he was seen in public, he had to be helped into a vehicle out of a wheelchair. Just a few months earlier when he was strolling in the garden of his house behind me here in Wentworth, he was totally unassisted accept for a cane.
So the physicians that are being called in, the issues that they're dealing with is, indeed: Is General Pinochet able mentally, and not so much physically, able to stand trial and continue on with the extradition process. That is the decision Home Secretary Jack Straw will be making in the next couple of days. If he decides that the case shall not go forward, then General Pinochet will probably get on a plane and fly back to Chile -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, Tom Mintier watching it for us in London.
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