June 14, 2000

Paraguay coup leader fears for life in Brazil jail

                  BRASILIA, June 14 (Reuters) -- Paraguay's failed coup leader Lino
                  Oviedo fears his life may be threatened by prison cellmates in Brasilia, where
                  the former general is preparing to battle extradition to Asuncion, his lawyer said
                  on Wednesday.

                  Oviedo is wanted in Paraguay for allegedly masterminding the 1999
                  assassination of Vice President Luis Maria Argana. Held at a Brasilia jail since
                  Monday, he is sharing a cell with a drug trafficker and a German citizen standing
                  trial for murder, according to newspaper reports.

                  "There have been reports of (people offering) $1 million or $2 million for his
                  death," Oviedo's lawyer, Inemar Marinho told Reuters.

                  "Now he is in a room with two or three criminals, and they might do it for a lot
                  less. Clearly he should have his own cell," Marinho said.

                  A request for Oviedo to be transferred could be decided within 24 hours, he

                  Oviedo was captured by Brazilian police on Sunday in the southern town of Foz
                  do Iguazu, ending a six-month manhunt for the ex-general who has already been
                  sentenced in Asuncion to 10 years in jail for a failed 1996 coup.

                  In all Oviedo is accused of leading three coup attempts since 1996 in the
                  landlocked nation of 5 million people.

                  After Argana's murder, Oviedo fled to and was granted asylum in Argentina. But
                  he has been on the run since disappearing there in December 1999 -- apparently
                  because he feared Argentina's incoming president would agree to extradite him
                  back to Paraguay.

                  After a brief visit to the federal police compound on Wednesday, Oviedo's
                  cousin, Roque Oliveira, said the coup leader was "doing well," and "wants to stay
                  in Brazil."

                  Oviedo is expected to apply for asylum in Brazil on grounds that he will face
                  political persecution and even risks to his life if he is returned -- factors that
                  could allow Brazil's courts to let him stay.

                  Coup attempts constitute political crimes which do not have a valid basis in Brazil
                  for extradition, legal experts have said.

                  But Paraguay's ambassador to Brazil told Reuters on Tuesday that Paraguay's
                  extradition request will be based on Argana's murder and the subsequent violence
                  which led to the shooting of eight protesters.

                  "This is not about somebody who is facing political persecution," Ambassador
                  Carlos Alberto Gonzales said.

                  Brazil is already home to two of Paraguay's most notorious former political
                  players. Oviedo's former running-mate and ex-President Raul Cubas, won exile
                  in Brazil in 1999 after being blamed for political violence following Argana's
                  murder. Former dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled Paraguay for 35 years,
                  has lived in Brasilia for more than a decade.

                  Political analysts say Brazil granted both of the leaders asylum to help preserve
                  stability in the poor country.

                  Oliveira said Oviedo's lawyers will wait to prepare their legal strategy until after
                  Paraguay presents its extradition request to Brazil's Supreme Court, expected
                  sometime next week.