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Court Halts Pinochet Legal Action

July 9, 2001

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ A court on Monday ruled that Gen. Augusto Pinochet cannot be tried on human rights charges because of the former dictator’s deteriorating health.

The three-judge panel at the Santiago Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to suspend the legal action against Pinochet, prosecutors and defense lawyers said.

Prosecution lawyers said they would seek a reversal of the ruling.

``This ruling is the result of political pressures over the court,″ said lawyer Eduardo Contreras.

``But Pinochet will still go into history as having been indicted on human rights charges,″ Contreras said. ``The trial was only suspended because he is allegedly ill or crazy.″

The trial against Pinochet could theoretically resume if the 85-year-old general’s health improves. But that possibility is considered remote.

Pinochet suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis, has a pacemaker and has had at least three mild strokes since 1998, according to his doctors.

Pinochet is charged in connection with the so-called ``Caravan of Death,″ a military operation that killed 75 political prisoners shortly after the 1973 coup in which Pinochet ousted Marxist President Salvador Allende.

Pinochet, who ruled until 1990, has denied responsibility for the deaths.

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