Pinochet Comes Out Swinging

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Your puny laws can't hold me.... General Augusto Pinochet marked his first appearance in the dock Friday by refusing to recognize the court's jurisdiction. His lawyer hastened to add that no disrespect was intended, and that the general accepts Britain's right to process Spain's extradition request. "Britain isn't actually trying the case," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "It only has to determine whether Spain has a valid claim to seek extradition, and then wash its hands of the matter." The extradition hearing resumes on January 18, although Pinochet's appeal against a House of Lords ruling denying him immunity begins next Tuesday.

The former dictator now looks set for a lengthy stay in Britain, leaving the protests of his supporters back home increasingly futile. "It's becoming clear that the danger to Chile's stability raised by Pinochet's arrest has been exaggerated," says Dowell. So, as his country returns to business as usual, Pinochet is left to grow accustomed to a relatively new experience -- facing accusers who don't conveniently 'disappear.'