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The BBC's Tom Gibb in Sao Paolo
"The mobile phones they used to coordinate the murder left a trail"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 02:36 GMT 03:36 UK
Paraguay vice-president's killers jailed
General Lino Oviedo
The convictions will strengthen the case against General Oviedo
A judge in Paraguay has sentenced an army major and two other men to long prison terms for their role in the murder last year of Vice-President Luis Maria Argana.

Major General Reinaldo Servin and Constantino Rodas were sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Pablo Vera Esteche was given a 20-year sentence.

Luis Maria Argana
Mr Argana was murdered in March last year
The murder of Mr Argana led Paraguay's president, Raul Cubas, and a former army chief, Lino Oviedo, to fleeto Brazil.

General Oviedo faces possible extradition to Paraguay.

He is accused of masterminding Mr Argana's assassination, as well as a number of failed coup attempts.

Mobile phone trail

Luis Maria Argana was shot down in March last year, on a busy street of the capital, Asuncion.

Mobile phones used by the accused to co-ordinate the murder left a trail which has now been used to convict them.

Raul Cubas
President Cubas fled to Brazil after Mr Argana's assassination
Major Servin was found guilty of hiring gunmen to assassinate Mr Argana, under orders from General Oviedo.

Mr Rodas was found guilty of providing the car used in the murder and Mr Esteche admitted to having fired at the vice-president's chauffeur, who survived.

Extradition request

Lino Oviedo is a notorious strongman in Paraguay's power struggles.

As army commander, in 1996 general Oviedo led a failed coup attempt against President Juan Carlos Wasmosy.

He was jailed and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But he was released when Raul Cubas, a political ally, was elected president in 1998.

The BBC correspondent in Sao Paolo, Tom Gibb, says the evidence of the trial in Paraguay will be used against General Oviedo.

However, he says, given Brazil's long tradition of non-extradition, the General may well never have to face a trial back home.

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See also:

12 Jun 00 | Americas
Paraguay ex-army chief arrested
20 May 00 | Americas
Arrests follow failed Paraguay coup
19 May 00 | Americas
Paraguay uprising foiled
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