Britain Holds Pinochet

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The generalissimo is not untouchable. Britain's court of appeals Wednesday ruled that General Augusto Pinochet has no immunity from prosecution, opening the way for London's courts to hear a Spanish extradition request. Violent demonstrations erupted in Chile following the decision. But with the immunity issue resolved, the final word on Pinochet's fate will now rest with the Labor party government. "They could release him on compassionate grounds," says TIME London bureau chief Barry Hillenbrand, "but there'll be strong pressure from within the party to proceed. This government has cloaked itself in the mantle of human rights and ethical foreign policy, and that will make it difficult to back down even though this opens a can of worms."

Whether elated or angry, Chileans were united by their incredulity at the decision. "Human rights groups want Pinochet tried but doubted that Britain would see the process through," says TIME Chile reporter Elizabeth Love. "The right wing are livid and are vowing to fight on." But even as Chileans take the issue to their country's streets, their former dictator will finally get his day in court.