Gen. Augusto Pinochet (search) was hospitalized after suffering a stroke Saturday, one day after an appeals court delayed a decision on whether to uphold the former dictator's indictment and house arrest on human rights charges.

Doctors say Pinochet has suffered several minor strokes since 1998. The 89-year-old former ruler also has mild dementia, diabetes and arthritis, and uses a pacemaker.

On Friday, the Santiago Court of Appeals (search) postponed until next week a decision on whether to uphold his indictment and house arrest for the alleged kidnapping of nine dissidents and the killing of one of them during his 1973-90 military regime.

Pinochet's health problems rescued him from trial three years ago on other charges.

"Gen. Pinochet suffered a new brain vascular accident with loss of consciousness," Santiago's Army Hospital said in a communique Saturday. He has developed moving and neurological problems, "but he has evolved with stable vital signs," the hospital said.

Pinochet's spokesman, retired Gen. Guillermo Garin, said the former ruler was rushed to the hospital after "he felt bad during breakfast — as if he would faint, and doctors decided to take him to the hospital."

Pinochet's motorcade entered the hospital in the upscale Providencia district under heavy guard. Minutes later, his wife, Lucia Hiriart, and army commander Gen. Emilio Cheyre also entered, along with several other Pinochet relatives.

Pinochet had an unusually active day Friday. He left his country residence at Los Boldos (search), where he would serve out his house arrest if the court upholds the order by Judge Juan Guzman, and traveled the 80 miles to Santiago, where he visited his office, saw his dentist and later met with supporters.