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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 18:29 GMT

World: Americas

Paraguay president 'victim of plot'

Soldiers on the streets in the aftermath of riots

A defence lawyer in the impeachment trial of the Paraguayan president has told the Senate that his client was the victim of a conspiracy.

Stephen Cviic: Trial proceeding quickly
Impeachment proceedings against President Raul Cubas resumed on Saturday, amid a heavy military presence on the streets of the capital, Asuncion.

The deployment of troops came after clashes between supporters and opponents of the president on Friday night, in which at least four people were killed, and 40 injured.

President Cubas has promised to accept the verdict of his impeachment trial even it if decides on his removal.

He is accused of abusing his power by freeing a close political ally, General Lino Oviedo, who had been jailed for mounting a failed coup.

[ image: President Cubas: Said he will honour the Senate's decision]
President Cubas: Said he will honour the Senate's decision
Defence lawyer Luis Canillas argued before the Senate that his client was a victim of a conspiracy between the legislature and the judiciary to remove him from power.

Saturday's hearing comes after President Cubas failed to appear before the Senate on Thursday. The president also stayed away from this latest session.

The impeachment hearing has been adjourned until Monday. A vote is expected early next week

Demonstrations continue

Feelings are running high with thousands of the president's opponents demonstrating in the city centre.

BBC Correspondent Stephen Cviic says there is a heavy military presence on the streets with armoured cars placed near government buildings, but the situation appears peaceful.

The army says it is acting to keep rival groups apart.

Snipers 'shot protesters'

Television broadcasts of Friday's demonstrations have shown snipers firing into the crowd.

The police chief responsible for security at the scene has been sacked.

Paraguay's political crisis deepened on Tuesday when the Vice-President, Luis Maria Argana, was assassinated. Opposition groups have blamed President Cubas for the killing.

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