Fair treatment

In her interview with Pinochet ("I took tea with Pinochet", 26 July), Christina Lamb sees some justification for Pinochet's reported complaints on the "farcical nature of the legal proceedings against him" and adds that, even if Pinochet is extradited to Spain, "he is too old to go to jail".

Pinochet's arrest and the ensuing legal developments have not only brought Chile's human rights record to public attention as never before but represent a milestone in the development of international human rights law. Pinochet has the right to exhaust all legal avenues available to him and the right to a fair trial, rights that were denied to thousands during his rule.

The possible sentence Pinochet may face, if convicted, is not the point. The 3,197 victims of torture, "disappearance" and murder in Chile during Pinochet's rule and their families have a right to the truth and to justice. The indictment of Pinochet for crimes against humanity means that the truth of what happened in those terrible years may now be established in a court of law. After 25 years of struggle, victims of human rights violations in Chile have finally had their voices heard.

Far from being a farce, the legal proceedings against Pinochet are sending a clear and unmistakable message to the world's torturers and death squads that they cannot torture and kill with impunity. No one, no matter his or her political status, should be allowed to get away with murder.

Mark Lattimer
Amnesty International UK
London EC1

This article first appeared in the 02 August 1999 issue of the New Statesman, America says: never again!