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Spanish judge seeks Kissinger

Kissinger was the U.S. assistant for national security from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-77
Kissinger was the U.S. assistant for national security from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-77  


From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger could be called as a witness to an investigation into alleged human rights crimes committed by former South American military dictatorships.

According to a copy of a court order obtained by CNN, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon issued an order on Wednesday.

The order asks British authorities to permit the questioning of Kissinger in London, where he is due to attend a conference on April 24.

Kissinger served as Richard Nixon's assistant for national security from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-77 for Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford.

Garzon is believed to want to question Kissinger over his alleged involvement in "Operation Condor," a scheme by former military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to persecute and eliminate their opponents during the 1970s and 1980s.

Joan Garces, a Spanish lawyer who represents victims of the General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, said Spain was making the request for the questioning of Kissinger under European Convention rules of mutual legal assistance in criminal cases.

Bill Rogers, a spokesman for Kissinger -- who was travelling after a trip to the Far East and could not immediately be reached for comment -- said the former Cabinet member had not been formally notified of Garzon's request and the "matter is in the hands of the State Department" regardless.

"Traditionally, questions by a foreign court addressed to a former government official in connection with his memory about the foreign policy of the United States are submitted to the State Department," Rogers said.

"The State Department compiles the answers, with appropriate calls to the particular official."

He told CNN that it would likely be himself, a Spanish prosecutor and Garzon -- the judge who is best-known for his 1998 arrest warrant for Pinochet -- who would attend the session, if Britain allows it.

Kissinger is expected to attend a convention of the Institute of Directors on April 24 at Royal Albert Hall in London.

Pinochet was arrested on October 16, 1998, in London for alleged human rights abuses stemming from Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973.

Pinochet, now 86, spent 16 months in London fighting extradition to Spain.

He was eventually allowed to return to Chile where a court ruled last year that he was mentally unfit to face trial at home for alleged human rights abuses.



 
 
 
 






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