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The Financial Times, 17.9.99

Thatcher to push claim. By Jimmy Burns

Lady Thatcher and Lord Lamont are to lead an extraordinary campaign at next month's Conservative party conference to have General Augusto Pinochet saved from extradition to Spain.

The pro-Pinochet campaign is organising a fringe meeting to draw attention to what they claim is the inhuman treatment by the Labour government of the former Chilean dictator, who is accused of human rights abuses.

Those invited to speak at the meeting include Gary Kasparov, the chess player, Vladimir Bukovsky, the anti-Soviet dissident and writer, and David Feurstein, a survivor of Auschwitz, and a member of the 20,000-strong Jewish community in Chile.

Pinochet aides are furious that Jack Straw, home secretary, has seemingly chosen not to prosecute Melita Norwood, the 87-year-old self-confessed Soviet spy, while insisting that Gen Pinochet, himself a pensioner and in ill-health, should remain under arrest and facing trial.

Lord Lamont, former Tory chancellor, said last night:

"The message of the meeting will be that we think the Pinochet case is very political and it is not a matter for this country, quite apart from the appalling fool the British justice system has made of itself over the issue."

Lady Thatcher last visited Gen Pinochet 10 days ago. She has taken a keen personal interest in the extradition case after declaring her recognition of Gen Pinochet's military help during the Falklands War and of his economic programme for Chile.

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