SANTIAGO, Chile – Gen. Augusto Pinochet (search) was conscious and mobile but remained hospitalized after suffering a stroke, the Army Hospital said Sunday, while the former dictator's family insisted that he's too ill to be tried on human rights charges.
The Court of Appeals was to decide Monday whether to uphold Pinochet's indictment and house arrest on human rights charges. He has been indicted for the kidnapping of nine people and killing of one during his 1973-90 regime.
Relatives and associates said the stroke shows that the 89-year-old former ruler is unfit to stand trial. Prosecution lawyers called his hospitalization "an old maneuver" to impress the court.
Pinochet fainted during breakfast Saturday and was rushed to the hospital, where doctors said he'd had a new stroke. Physicians say he has had several since 1998, resulting in mild dementia. The condition saved him from trial three years ago on other charges. The former strongman also has diabetes and arthritis, and uses a pacemaker.
Pinochet "has recovered consciousness and mobility" and "has overcome the critical condition" from the stroke, the Army Hospital (search) said in a communique Sunday.
He could suffer physical and neurological after-effects, but only tests could determine to what the extent, hospital director Dr. Leonel Gomez said in the communique. Pinochet may be released in a couple of days, he said.
Lawyers representing Pinochet's accusers said Sunday that he often entered the hospital in the past when he faced legal problems. They referred to the decision to release him from trial three years ago because of his mild dementia.
"He has the normal ailments of an elderly person, but he's not crazy," the lawyers said in a communique.
But those close to Pinochet say he is too ill to face prosecution and angrily reject the latest indictment issued by Judge Juan Guzman.
"Let the judge come to the hospital and see how bad my father is now," Pinochet's younger son, Marco Antonio, told reporters as he left the hospital.
Retired Gen. Luis Cortes blamed the judge for Pinochet's stroke.
"He's a lawyer, not a doctor," Cortes said of Guzman's statement that Pinochet is mentally competent to stand trial. "I blame the judge, totally and absolutely, of this new health problem of my general."