From the 10/31/99 Sunday Times of London:

Carey pleads for Pinochet to be released

Christopher Morgan, Religious Affairs Correspondent


THE Archbishop of Canterbury has made a private appeal to Jack Straw, the home secretary, to free Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, it emerged last week.

George Carey's support for the ageing general, which he wanted to keep secret, will surprise some in the Church of England. Many senior clerics have privately supported the Spanish government's wish to extradite Pinochet, 83, on torture charges.

Andrew de Berry, a leading member of the clergy's trade union, said he was dismayed by the approach: "Why does the archbishop do this in secret? Any support for Pinochet should be declared openly. Secrecy creates a kind of furtiveness.

" Clearly this is a man who has committed outrages and he is facing the consequences of his actions."

It is not known why Carey kept his move secret, but sources said he did not want to be seen to interfere in the legal process.

Carey made his appeal because he was concerned about the humanitarian aspects of keeping an old man, apparently ailing, in detention. He is also said to have highlighted Pinochet's acceptance of the restoration of democracy in Chile in 1990 at the end of his 17-year dictatorship during which more than 3,000 people "disappeared".

Although the archbishop has been careful not to interfere with the legal moves, he is thought to have told Straw that extradition might damage the reconciliation process in Chile. Carey has a longstanding interest in Pinochet's plight. During a BBC radio interview in October last year just after the general's arrest, he called for the government to pay "attention to the personal aspects of this and be compassionate".

News of Carey's move will be seen by many as the latest in a long line of gaffes by the archbishop, who has been accused of making the church seem indecisive on many moral issues. In the past he has excused rioters in Newcastle, failed to condemn the fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie and called opponents of women priests "heretical".

Pinochet is under house arrest at the Wentworth estate in Surrey, reportedly suffering from several illnesses. Earlier this month [October 1999], his lawyers lodged an appeal against a magistrate's ruling that he should be extradited to Spain.

Carey is one of many high-profile supporters Pinochet has attracted in Britain, including Baroness Thatcher and Lord Lamont, the former Tory chancellor who was in Chile last week. He advised the Chilean government to take a tougher line against Britain and Spain in demanding that Pinochet be returned home.

Carey's attitude contrasts with that of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, who condemned his fellow Catholic.

"There are some actions, such as torture and genocide, that are so wrong that nobody who commits or authorises them should have total immunity. They should be made accountable," he said last year.

Additional reporting: Joe Perry and Jack Grimston

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