BY GLENN GARVIN
MANAGUA -- A congressman accused of bigamy spent 5 1/2 hours threatening
to kill himself Friday, waving a gun and firing shots into the ceiling of Nicaragua's
National Assembly chambers, before surrendering his pistol to a pair of Roman
Marlon Castillo, a member of the ruling Liberal Alliance, was
hospitalized after the
incident. One of the shots, fired as he held the barrel of the pistol along his face,
singed his hair and skin.
``It was just a miracle of God that this man didn't die,'' said
Ivan Escobar Fornos, one of several officials who pleaded with Castillo for hours to
put down his 9mm pistol and leave the chambers peacefully.
Friday's ordeal capped a bizarre weeklong public confrontation
with a woman who
accused the 41-year-old Castillo of faking his own death during Nicaragua's civil
war in the 1980s and assuming a phony identity to escape their marriage and
cattle-rustling charges she filed against him.
Earlier in the week, Castillo had dismissed the woman as a liar
During Friday's standoff, however, he admitted being married to her and leaving
her 15 years ago while she was pregnant -- but denied that he was a rustler.
``He said he'd never stolen anything in his life,'' Escobar Fornos said.
The drama began when a woman named Maritza del Carmen Sequeira
appeared before congress to ask that Castillo be stripped of his parliamentary
immunity so she could pursue criminal charges of bigamy, use of a fake identity
and rustling against him.
Morales said Castillo was actually a man named German Antonio
who married her in central Nicaragua in 1980 and fathered her four children.
During the final pregnancy in 1984, Morales said, he ran off with 10 of her cattle.
When she filed rustling charges, she said, the man joined the contras, the
U.S.-backed guerrillas who were battling Nicaragua's Marxist government, and
The contras later sent Morales documents showing that her husband
killed in combat in 1985, she said. But last year she saw photos of Castillo
serving in the National Assembly and realized he was the same man.
When she contacted Castillo, Morales said, ``all I got were threats
humiliations. He called me a blackmailer, and he threatened me with death if I
tried to claim my legal rights.''
PHOTOS AS EVIDENCE
Some Assembly members at first dismissed Morales' claims, but
them with photos of Castillo dancing with her at their wedding and posing with
their young children. Inspection of Castillo's birth certificate showed that it hadn't
been registered with the government until 1986.
The final straw came when journalists located German Antonio Alvarez
aging peasant father in a remote village in rural central Nicaragua. When they
showed him pictures of Castillo, the father confirmed that Castillo was his son.
The stories about the father's confirmation in Friday newspapers
triggered Castillo's eruption. He showed up at the congressional chambers at 7
a.m. and fired the first of what would be 11 bullets into the ceiling.
A police SWAT team sealed off the building, but Castillo's current
wife Carolina, a
psychiatrist, and several congressmen were permitted to enter. As they clustered
upstairs in the mezzanine spectators' gallery, urging him to surrender, Castillo sat
in a chair at the speaker's table, carrying on a rambling, tearful soliloquy --
punctuated by the occasional gunshot.
`ALREADY A CORPSE'
Eventually Castillo said he was going to kill himself and asked
the others to send
for Eddy Montenegro, the vicar general of Managua's Catholic archdiocese, to
receive his confession.
``I'm already a corpse,'' Castillo told Montenegro and the Rev.
Amador Peña, a
Managua parish priest.
But after about two hours of conversation, they persuaded Castillo
to let them
come down from the mezzanine and approach him at the speakers' table. There,
Peña embraced the sobbing Castillo and persuaded him to lay down the gun.
Copyright 2000 Miami Herald