Augusto Pinochet
(2003 file photo)

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was taken to the hospital Tuesday after fainting at his home following a stroke. On two previous occasions poor health has shielded the former dictator from prosecution on charges of human rights abuses during his 1973 to 1990 rein.

The 89-year-old retired general was taken to the hospital Tuesday, a day before a court was to decide whether he may be tried for human rights violations that occurred during his rule. The hearing was postponed until next week.

His opponents claim Mr. Pinochet, who has suffered several strokes in recent years, is exaggerating his health problems to escape prosecution.

But lawyers for the aging former dictator assert he is suffering from dementia and is unfit to stand trial.

His son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, reiterated to reporters Tuesday that his father was not well enough to face the prosecutors. He says there are things his father sees in the press that he comprehends, but his condition has severely deteriorated.

The former Chilean ruler is charged as an accessory in dozens of cases of politically motivated kidnappings and murder allegedly carried out when he first came to power.

Earlier this month a Chilean appeals court stripped the former dictator of immunity from prosecution on charges of tax evasion and other charges related to millions of dollars he held in secret bank accounts.