Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Daughter of former Paraguayan president murdered

AP , ASUNCION, PARAGUAY

The daughter of former President Raul Cubas was found dead Wednesday night, months after she was abducted by heavily armed gunmen in the highest-profile kidnapping in the history of this South American country.

Attorney-General Oscar Latorre, speaking on Paraguayan radio, said the body of Cecilia Cubas, 32, had been unearthed from a tunnel behind a house on the outskirts of Asuncion and identified through dental records.

The disclosure marked a troubling conclusion to a string of highly publicized abductions, provoking worries that a crime wave sweeping much of Latin America has now seeped into this country of 6 million people. Other victims have included the son of a tobacco magnate killed in a kidnapping and a restaurant operator still missing.

"Preliminary studies show that the body is that of Cecilia," Latorre said somberly on Radio Mil. There was no immediate word on the cause of death and officials said an autopsy would be performed.

Cubas was seized in a commando-style operation last Sept. 21 as she drove near the family home in a wealthy suburb of this capital. The abduction took mere seconds, with her bullet-riddled car left to mark the scene.

On Wednesday evening, Raul Cubas and his wife rushed to the site of the abandoned house as word spread that her body had apparently been found. Television showed 15 police officers digging with firefighters in the yard as President Nicanor Duarte joined the Cubas family there.

Cubas served as president from August 1998 until March 1999. He was forced to resign when the assassination of his vice president triggered days of street rioting and political turmoil.

Only Wednesday, Colombian authorities said their police were aiding Paraguayan authorities in the search for the missing woman after officials reported suspicions that Colombian rebels may have been linked to the abduction.

Latorre said Tuesday that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, may have been involved in the kidnapping.

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