Pinochet Is 'Rescued from Death'

The Birmingham Post (England), December 4, 2006 | Go to article overview

Pinochet Is 'Rescued from Death'


Byline: By Alyssa Braithwaite

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was 'serious but stable' in hospital yesterday after undergoing emergency treatment following a heart attack.

The general was rushed to hospital in the Chilean capital Santiago where doctors performed surgery using a catheter to unblock his arteries in a procedure not unlike a bypass.

The 91-year-old, who was given the last rites, 'was virtually rescued from death' his son said as he left the hospital.

It is the latest health scare for the former dictator and may see the Chilean general avoid punishment for human rights abuses once and for all.

Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was head of the military junta that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990 after deposing democratically elected Marxist President Salvador Allende in a military coup. During his regime 3,197 people were killed for political reasons and more than 1,000 "disappeared".

An arch-nationalist who referred to Chile as "the fatherland", the general also liked to regard himself as something of an English gentlemen, saying London was his favourite city after Santiago.

On his visits he would go shopping in Burberry's, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

In Chile, his dictatorship was marked by its highly personal nature and the drive of his own severe personality.

Pinochet managed to cling to power through most of the 1980s, until he lost a referendum in 1988 and eventually agreed to step down in 1990.

He insisted on guarantees that he would remain head of the armed forces for another decade and remained protected from prosecutions over human rights abuses by the legal immunity afforded him by his post of life senator.

But he failed to grasp that, with new developments in international human rights law, his position when travelling abroad was less secure - a situation which led to his arrest in London on October 16, 1998. …

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