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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Paraguay's Oviedo leaves prison
Gen Lino Oviedo
Gen Oviedo has always denied rebellion charges
Former Paraguayan general Lino Oviedo, convicted of plotting to overthrow the government, has been released from jail after serving half of his 10-year term.

Gen Oviedo was met by cheering supporters as he walked free from the prison on the outskirts of Asuncion.

A military tribunal said Gen Oviedo was released on parole for good behaviour and could re-engage in politics.

Gen Oviedo was convicted in 1998 of a coup plot in 1996 and arrested after returning from exile in Brazil in 2004.

Gen Oviedo, 63, made no comment as he was taken away in a car but waved to more than 100 supporters who had gathered outside the Vinas Cue prison.

"You can feel it, you can feel it, Lino for president," they shouted.

Pilgrimage

The release came after a three-man military tribunal unanimously backed a petition for release by Gen Oviedo's lawyers.

Tribunal president Col Carlos Liseras said politics were not an illegal activity so would not breach the terms of parole.

Tomas Velasquez on the cross in Asuncion
Tomas Velasquez was crucified in protest at the detention

Sen Enrique Gonzalez, who leads a party linked to Gen Oviedo, told the Associated Press news agency the former general would make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Caacupe, near the capital, to give thanks for his freedom.

Gen Oviedo remains popular in parts of Paraguay, with supporters saying his sentence was politically motivated.

Last November, Tomas Velazquez, a supporter of Gen Oviedo, was tied and nailed to a cross outside the Supreme Court in protest at the continued detention.

Gen Oviedo initially rose to prominence in February 1989.

He played a prominent part in the uprising that overthrew the regime of Gen Alfredo Stroessner and set the country on the path back to civilian government.

Before being jailed, he pursued political ambitions, first within the governing Colorado Party and then as head of his own Unace (National Union of Ethical Citizens) political movement.

But his jail term stemmed from a short-lived 1996 rebellion against then-President Juan Carlos Wasmosy.

Gen Oviedo always denied plotting against Mr Wasmosy, who was Paraguay's first elected civilian president after Gen Stroessner was ousted.

During five years of exile in Brazil, Gen Oviedo indicated he was considering running for the Paraguayan presidency in 2008.



SEE ALSO
Profile: Lino Oviedo
29 Jun 04 |  Americas
Paraguay man crucified in public
30 Nov 06 |  Americas
Oviedo held on return to Paraguay
29 Jun 04 |  Americas
Brazil blocks Oviedo extradition
17 Dec 01 |  Americas
Country profile: Paraguay
15 Aug 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Paraguay
06 Sep 03 |  Country profiles

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