September 28, 1999

Argentina has no mercy for general's scalp

                  BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Argentina has rejected an appeal
                  from an exiled Paraguayan coup leader to delay his banishment to the frozen,
                  wind-swept south until his hair transplant can take hold.

                  Lawyers for Lino Oviedo, once the army strongman behind Paraguay's
                  disgraced President Raul Cubas, said Tuesday that Oviedo's plastic surgeon
                  does not want the general's scalp exposed to sun or wind for several

                  But the Argentine government is standing by last week's decision to send him
                  promptly to a remote ranch on the Patagonian island of Tierra del Fuego.

                  Argentina says the move is Oviedo's punishment for breaking political
                  asylum rules by making political comments to a national newspaper.

                  Security Secretary Miguel Angel Toma said: "The appeal for a delay has
                  been rejected. He will be moved on Thursday."

                  Tierra del Fuego has a notoriously cold, windy climate and one of Oviedo's
                  lawyers, Federico Pinto Kramer, told Reuters he had sought "a temporary
                  postponement with a medical certificate saying he needed treatment for
                  another 60 days ... ."

                  Oviedo's lawyers said his scalp "cannot be exposed to sun or wind because
                  of the risk of infection."

                  They also said his three children needed to complete the current term at
                  school near the luxury chalet he is renting outside Buenos Aires.

                  The plastic surgeon, Jose Jury, told radio that Oviedo "must be in my care
                  for two more months."

                  Oviedo and Cubas fled Paraguay in March amid accusations they had
                  plotted the murder of Vice President Luis Maria Argana, their political rival.
                  Argana was was gunned down in the streets of Asuncion on March 23.

                  Oviedo found asylum in Argentina, Cubas in Brazil.

                  Now Paraguay wants the 55-year-old cavalryman extradited to face trial for
                  the death of Argana and six demonstrators in the rioting that followed the
                  assassination, and to serve out a 10-year jail sentence for a coup attempt in

                  When his uprising failed, Oviedo turned to politics and started his own
                  faction of the ruling Colorado Party, winning primaries in 1997.

                  He was later belatedly jailed for his revolt. But his sidekick Cubas stepped
                  in, won the presidency and freed him.

                  Argentina has twice refused to extradite him, arguing that it would destabilize
                  Paraguay, a corruption-ridden country that only emerged from the 35-year
                  dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner in 1989.

                  Paraguay has been ruled by the Colorado Party, in dictatorship and
                  democracy, for half a century.

                  Argentina's stance has strained relations between the two neighbors and
                  partners in Mercosur, the world's third biggest trade bloc that also
                  encompasses Brazil and Uruguay.

                  Last week Oviedo complicated the situation by granting La Nacion
                  newspaper an interview that he later denied giving.

                  "If conditions arise for my return to Paraguay, I can assure you I would beat
                  the rest of them together in elections, as already happened once before," he
                  was quoted as saying in the front-page interview that triggered the decision
                  to move him to Patagonia.

                  When he arrived in March, Oviedo first found shelter on the ranch of a
                  friend of President Carlos Menem. The president has denied reports they
                  are friends, but acknowledges having met the general in Paraguay.