Paraguay presidential candidate Oviedo killed in crash | News | DW | 03.02.2013
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Paraguay presidential candidate Oviedo killed in crash

Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Oviedo, 69, has died in a helicopter crash. The retired general helped lead the 1989 coup to overthrow former dictator Alfredo Stroessner.

Police rescuers found Oviedo's body on Sunday in the wreckage of a helicopter crash in northern Paraguay, where he was traveling for a campaign event with a bodyguard. The pilot of the aircraft encountered bad weather and all three died in the crash.

Defense Minister Maria Liz Garcia said she traveled to the scene of the crash with Oviedo's daughter, congresswoman Fabiola Oviedo, and confirmed the helicopter had "disintegrated."

"One resident who lives near the accident scene said they heard a single explosion Saturday night," she added, saying that "the aircraft ended up disintegrated" but out of respect for the families, she wouldn't release details about the bodies.

Oviedo was running in April's election as leader of Paraguay's third-largest opposition party, the conservative National Union of Ethical Citizens (NUEC).

"On behalf of the government, we send our sincere condolences to the family of General Lino Cesar Oviedo," said Paraguayan President Federico Franco in a Tweet.

The day Oviedo's body was found, February 3, marks exactly 24 years since the coup that ended Stroessner's dictatorship. In 1989, Oviedo was tasked with taking prisoner the former dictator, who had been in power since 1954.

Oviedo was accused of plotting coups to overthrow governments in the 1990s, and was given 10 years in jail. He was pardoned before completing his sentence, and became leader of the NUEC.

In the 2008 presidential election, Oviedo finished third.

"He is a person who unquestionably figures in the history of our country, with all its light and shadows," said Paraguay's Communications Minister Gustavo Kohn.

Interior Minister Carmelo Caballero said the government would investigate the crash,

"We cannot rule out any hypothesis," he said.

dr/kms (AP, Reuters)