THE manner of General Augusto Pinochet's return to Chile has done little to dissipate the scepticism of those who believe he faked illness to escape extradition from Britain. The former dictator seemed to have made an almost miraculous recovery during the long flight home. Transformed from the feeble, confused, old man we have grown accustomed to seeing on television screens, he was able to rise smiling from his wheelchair, walk unaided and even use his metal cane to wave to crowds of well-wishers. Much will be made in the days ahead of this apparent recovery and Pinochet's fitness or otherwise to stand trial in his home country. Undoubtedly, many terrible crimes were committed in Chile during the 84-year-old general's 17-year rule. More than 3,000 people are believed to have died or disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police after he seized power from elected president Salvador Allende in a 1973 coup. For many people, vengeance and justice for those crimes are all that matter. This is quite understandable, even if others argue that Pinochet rescued the country from slipping into a Marxist anarchy. However, there can be no doubt that Pinochet should face trial. In order for this to happen he must first be stripped of his status as senator for life, which grants him immunity from prosecution. Chile's elected President Eduardo Frei has said that he will let justice take its course. But there are signs of a growing determination among many people of influence in the country to push hard for a prosecution, something once considered extremely unlikely. But for those concerned with the wider issue of international justice, what happens in Chile now is immaterial to the legacy that was established following Pinochet's 1998 arrest in London. Perhaps the manner in which British Home Secretary Jack Straw made his extradition decision was unsatisfactory - the medical evidence upon which it was based was not made public. But the legal principle - that Pinochet was unfit to stand trial - is a sound one. Far more importantly, by rejecting Pinochet's claim that as a former head of state he should be immune from prosecution, British courts played a vital role in establishing that tyrants everywhere can and will be held responsible for their crimes.