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Chilean court suspends Pinochet house-arrest order

A supporter covers the face of Pinochet on a poster during a Tuesday demonstration against Judge Guzman outside the Supreme Court, in Santiago, Chile  

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- A Chilean appeals court on Tuesday suspended an order to hold Gen. Augusto Pinochet under house arrest, pending the former dictator's appeal of the ruling.

The court is tentatively scheduled to hear the appeal on Wednesday.

Santiago Judge Juan Guzman issued the order on December 1 when he indicted the 85-year-old Pinochet on homicide and kidnapping charges stemming from the early days of his 1973-1990 rule of Chile.

Pinochet's attorneys complained to the Santiago Court of Appeals about the indictment, saying that Guzman had not questioned their client as required by Chilean law.

Guzman said Pinochet had satisfied the requirement by responding to written questionnaires.

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Pinochet's attorneys also complained that Guzman had not waited for the results of psychological and medical tests required in order for any person in Chile over 70 to stand trial.

Rumblings of discontent from the country's military, which still carries some loyalty to Pinochet, followed Guzman's order. President Ricardo Lagos planned to meet with military leaders on Tuesday, when he returned from the inauguration of Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Human rights abuse charges

Guzman's order grew out of the cases of 77 Chileans who were either killed or disappeared at the hands of the so-called "caravan of death" after Pinochet's ascension to power. That military campaign sought to eliminate opponents of the coup, which ousted democratically elected Socialist President Salvador Allende.

According to a report by the civilian government that succeeded him, more than 3,000 people "disappeared" or were killed under the watch of Pinochet.

In 1998 Pinochet was placed under house arrest in England, where he remained for 16 months while international lawyers wrangled over a Spanish judge's request for his extradition on human rights abuse charges.

The Chilean courts, once loyal to Pinochet, had earlier stripped him of the immunity from prosecution he claimed as senator for life, a position he assumed when he left the presidency in 1990.

However, the ailing former dictator returned to Chile in March, after British Home Secretary Jack Straw eventually ruled that he was too ill to stand trial.

Court orders judge to explain charges against Pinochet
December 4, 2000
Human rights groups hail Pinochet arrest
December 2, 2000
Pinochet to stand trial in Chile
December 1, 2000
Pending prosecution mars Pinochet's 85th birthday
November 25, 2000
Pinochet undergoes treatment at Chilean hospital for pneumonia
October 29, 2000
Chilean Supreme Court strips Pinochet of immunity
August 8, 2000
Defense: Pinochet never ordered executions, kidnappings
July 21, 2000

Amnesty International
Pinochet Foundation (in Spanish)
Chile President (in Spanish)
Human Rights Watch
UK Home Office

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