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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 23:03 GMT
Brazil blocks Oviedo extradition
General Lino Oviedo
General Oviedo has said he is the victim of persecution
The Brazilian Supreme Court has rejected a request by Paraguay for the extradition of the former Paraguayan military commander, General Lino Oviedo.

The request was in connection with Mr Oviedo's alleged involvement the assassination of Paraguay's former Vice-President, Luis Maria Argana.

Luis Maria Argana
Mr Argana was murdered in March 1999
The decision by the 11-member court was unanimous, agreeing that Mr Oviedo was the victim of a political persecution, freeing him from jail and allowing him to stay in Brazil.

Mr Oviedo's lawyers have welcomed the decision, saying he would not receive a fair trial in Paraguay, and that his life would be in danger if he returned there.

Assassination

Paraguayan authorities want Mr Oviedo to stand trial for allegedly masterminding the assassination of the Mr Argana, in March 1999.

The general denies the charge.

The former army chief was captured in Brazil, at Foz de Iguazu near to the Paraguayan border, on 11 June last year, after months on the run.

He was found with a revolver and 10 mobile telephones.

Coup conviction

Mr Oviedo also led a failed 1996 coup attempt in Paraguay against President Juan Carlos Wasmosy for which he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mr Oviedo's opponents in Paraguay say he must still serve out that sentence if he returns to Paraguay.

Mr Oviedo has claimed he is the victim of political persecution and said last month he would return voluntarily to Paraguay to face the accusations.

In response to the decision, Mr Oviedo's wife, Raquel Marin, who is in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, said the court's decision "validates our suffering."

"I am so emotional and I have so much faith that there with be justice," she said.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jan Rocha
"Defence lawyers claimed he would not be given a fair trial"
See also:

12 Jun 00 | Americas
Paraguay ex-army chief arrested
20 May 00 | Americas
Arrests follow failed Paraguay coup
02 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Paraguay
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