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Pinochet Moved To Country Estate

December 2, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Gen. Augusto Pinochet has moved into an exclusive community of business executives and bankers _ well-heeled residents who aren’t exactly relishing the thought of an ex-dictator living in their neighborhood.

While the former Chilean despot battles efforts to extradite him to Spain on charges of genocide and terrorism, some local inhabitants are bracing for demonstrations and police patrols.

``My first reaction when I heard the rumors was, ’Oh, God, how safe is it going to be to live here?‴ The Times of London quoted an unidentified woman as saying.

The resident association of Wentworth Estate, a compound of 600 luxury homes set amid a famed golf course and woodlands, plans to meet soon to discuss the security implications of the 83-year-old Chilean general’s presence, The Sun reported in today’s editions.

Pinochet, who remained under police guard, arrived at the nine-room private home, located about 20 miles west of London, after dark Tuesday in an ambulance escorted by armed police. On Monday, the Grovelands Priory, a north London hospital where the general had been staying since Oct. 29, publicly announced that he no longer required medical care and should find new accommodations.

``I can confirm that General Pinochet is now in residence in a house in the Wentworth estate,″ North Surrey police chief Carl Crathern said. ``I am unable to discuss the details regarding any of the security arrangements that are in place. ... I have considered every option.″

There was no word on who owns the home, but British newspapers reported today that the owner insisted that Pinochet’s supporters take out insurance to cover any potential damage from bombs, rockets and firearms.

Pinochet was arrested Oct. 16 in a central London hospital where he had undergone back surgery. A judge in Spain wants him extradited to that country to stand trial for the deaths and torture of political opponents by secret police during his 1973-90 rule.

British Home Secretary Jack Straw must decide by Dec. 11 whether to let extradition proceedings start, or send Pinochet home.

If Straw blocks the extradition, Spain is expected to request a judicial review of the decision. If he sends the extradition request forward, the court battle could last for months, as British law allows Pinochet to appeal at every step.

Chile’s government has stepped up efforts to get Pinochet freed. In Spain, Chilean Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza concluded a lobbying trip Tuesday to press Britain and Spain to halt the extradition effort. While he stopped short of promising a trial for Pinochet in Chilean courts, Insulza insisted that it was a strong possibility. About 85 Pinochet supporters, meanwhile, were expected to arrive in London from Chile today to continue the lobbying.

Human rights activists and leftist politicians in Chile have been urging Britain not to let Pinochet go, saying the general’s immunity and military connections make a fair trial there unlikely. Pinochet opponents were expected to move their demonstrations, previously held outside the hospital, to the Wentworth estate.

A Chilean government report concluded that 3,197 people were killed or disappeared at the hands of the police after Pinochet seized power in a military coup. The democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, died in the coup.

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