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Saturday, September 4, 1999 Published at 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK

World: Americas

Argentina rejects Oviedo extradition

General Oviedo is a close friend of Paraguay's exiled former president

Argentina has rejected a second request by Paraguay for the extradition of failed coup leader and former General Lino Oviedo, who was granted asylum in Argentina in March.

"Asylum protection obligates the state to not return the beneficiary to Paraguay," the Argentinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement turning down the request.

General Oviedo has lived on a ranch belonging to a wealthy businessman since he fled to Argentina in a light aircraft on 23 March, a week after Paraguayan Vice President Luis Maria Argana was shot dead in the capital, Asuncion.

Mr Argana had been pressing for General Oviedo to be jailed for his coup attempt against the government of Juan Wasmosy in 1996.

Argentina granted the former cavalry general asylum, hoping to ease tensions in Paraguay, its neighbour and trade partner.

Fatal connection

However Argentina's decision sparked protests in Asuncion, where demonstrators gathered outside the Argentine Embassy, denouncing General Oviedo with cries of "Assassin, assassin!".

But General Oviedo's lawyers said they were not surprised by the favourable decision.

[ image: Luis Maria Argana was a rival of the Oviedo-Cubas faction]
Luis Maria Argana was a rival of the Oviedo-Cubas faction
The BBC's Javier Aparisi in Buenos Aires, says that Paraguay's new president, Luis Gonzalez Macchi, has accused General Oviedo of interfering in Paraguayan politics from Argentina, despite a ban on political activities as a condition for asylum.

He says the denial of the Paraguayan extradition request will probably set back relations with Argentina, a partner in the Mercosur trading bloc.

General Oviedo is an ally of former Paraguayan President Raul Cubas, who has been living at a seaside resort in Brazil since being granted asylum there soon after Mr Argana's murder.

Mr Cubas' government fell amid accusations of involvement in the crime, and repercussions from his decision to pardon General Oviedo, who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the failed coup.

The extradition request for the general was issued by Paraguayan Judge Jorge Bogarin, who based it on a treaty signed by Argentina that bars political asylum for people fleeing murder charges.


On Wednesday, Uruguay rejected Paraguay's extradition request for former Defence Minister Jose Segovia on grounds that he was immune after being granted political asylum there.

Mr Segovia, viewed as a close associate of General Oviedo, is accused of stealing $450,000 while serving under Mr Cubas.

Paraguay recalled its ambassador to Uruguay on Thursday over the extradition dispute, saying its South American neighbour was being "unfriendly" in failing to resolve the conflict.

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