Pinochet Loses Appeal, but Chile Won't Explode

  • Share
  • Read Later
Time may not heal all wounds, but it certainly takes the edge off a volatile situation. Although Britain's high court on Wednesday upheld the arrest of former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, the response in Chile was likely to be more muted than when he was first held in London last October. "Whatever serious impact Pinochet's arrest was going to have on Chilean democracy will have already expressed itself by now," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "There may be some irritation and unease, but there's really no sign of any serious destabilization."

The British court overruled Pinochet's claim to immunity as a former head of state, but will allow Spain to seek his extradition only for human rights violations committed after 1988 -- the year Britain signed the International Convention Against Torture. "That raises the question of whether British law can prescribe to a Spanish court," says Dowell. "There's nothing to stop Spain from seeking Pinochet's extradition on British terms, and then charging him for the full gamut of his alleged crimes." And with the former dictator required to remain in Britain under police guard during an extradition process that could take months, if not years, he's already effectively doing time.