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France Issues Warrant for Pinochet

November 2, 1998

PARIS (AP) _ A French judge on Monday issued an international arrest warrant for former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet on charges of ``sequestration followed by torture,″ judicial officials said.

The officials, who requested anonymity, said Paris Judge Roger Le Loire had issued the request, a necessary step before France can officially ask for Pinochet’s extradition.

Last week, a lawyer representing three French families whose relatives disappeared in Chile after Pinochet took power in 1973 filed a complaint with a French court, asking for Pinochet’s extradition to face charges of crimes against humanity.

French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou has said she would ask Britain to extradite the former dictator if such a step were deemed ``necessary and possible.″

Pinochet, 82, was arrested in a central London hospital Oct. 16 after undergoing back surgery.

Britain’s High Court ruled last week that he was immune from prosecution as a former head of state. He was granted bail, but remains under police guard at another hospital in north London.

British prosecutors _ acting on behalf of a Spanish magistrate seeking the former Chilean dictator’s extradition on allegations of murder, kidnapping and torture during his 17-year rule _ have until the end of the business day Monday to appeal formally.

Switzerland has also requested Pinochet’s arrest and extradition on charges of murder, kidnapping and torture.

A report by Chile’s democratically elected government says some 3,000 people disappeared during Pinochet’s rule.

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