Guardian - Thursday April 18, 2002
The Spanish judge who was responsible for the arrest of General Augusto Pinochet in Britain in October 1998 is attempting to have Henry Kissinger interviewed by British police when he arrives in London next week.
Judge Baltasar Garzon has told the British authorities via Interpol that he wants the former US secretary of state questioned as a witness in his investigations into the torture, genocide and acts of terrorism allegedly committed by the Chilean dictator and other military strongmen in Latin America.
If the request was accepted, Mr Kissinger - Richard Nixon's assistant for national security from 1969-1973 and secretary of state between 1973-1977 - would have his first ever personal encounter with international human rights law at the hands of Metropolitan police officers, who would present him with a list of questions from Judge Garzon.
Mr Kissinger has managed to avoid similar requests from courts in France and Chile in the past year.
William D Rogers, a member of Kissinger Associates in Washington, said yesterday he believed Mr Kissinger still planned to travel to London and was prepared to "provide whatever evidence his memory can generate". But, he added, Judge Garzon ought to direct his questions to the US state department.
The document sent by Judge Garzon to Interpol on Monday said he needed to know if Mr Kissinger would be in London "in order to request that he declare before the competent authorities in relation to the case in which Augusto Pinochet has been indicted by this court".
Any questions are likely to concentrate on Operation Condor, a secret agreement under which half a dozen Latin American military regimes allegedly agreed to eradicate leftwing opponents. Spanish prosecutors claimed that documents released recently by the CIA showed that the US knew about Operation Condor and trained many of the military officers from the death squads.
Mr Kissinger is not a suspect in the case and would simply be required to answer questions as a witness.
The request to question Mr Kissinger was sparked by lawyers representing victims of Gen Pinochet's regime who spotted an article in The Guardian last month which said that Mr Kissinger was due to be a speaker at the Royal Albert Hall on April 24, as part of a convention organised by the Institute of Directors.
A Met spokeswoman said she was unable to say whether Judge Garzon's request had been received or acted on.
However, an Institute of Directors spokesman said they were still expecting Mr Kissinger to speak at the conference next week.
Prosecuting lawyers were confident yesterday that, due to treaties signed by Britain and Spain on judicial cooperation and terrorism, Mr Kissinger would not be able to avoid questioning in Britain.
"Mr Kissinger has two options: either he can travel and expose himself to questioning or he can not travel," Carlos Slepoy, a Madrid-based prosecution lawyer, said.
"If he does not go, it would be a demonstration that he wants to avoid a justice system which, at the moment, is only asking him what he knows."