Paraguay investigators try to ID candidate's body

AP News
Posted: Feb 04, 2013 3:56 PM
Paraguay investigators try to ID candidate's body

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — The bodies of Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Oviedo and two other people killed in a helicopter crash over the weekend are so mutilated that they can't be reconstructed and it will take longer to identify them.

Forensic doctor Pablo Lemir told reporters Monday that officials might identify the bodies through fingerprints. He said bones and pieces of skin have been stored in 32 body bags at a local morgue.

Oviedo was returning with his bodyguard from a political rally in northern Paraguay Saturday night when his pilot encountered bad weather. All three were killed in the crash.

"The crash was so powerful that the helicopter's nose sank into the ground over a meter deep," Lemir said. "I want to clarify that those aboard did not die of burns but were shattered by the impact, dismembered."

The deadly crash ended a dramatic political career for Oviedo that included coups and several attempts to become the leader of this poor, grain-producing country.

Oviedo, 69, was running in April's presidential elections as part of Paraguay's third-largest opposition party, the National Union of Ethical Citizens (UNACE), but he was not among the favorites.

His widow, 59-year-old Raquel Marin, will take over the political leadership of the party after Oviedo's funeral.

"She can't run as a candidate for any elected post," said Carmelo Benitez, a Mercosur trade bloc lawmaker representing the UNACE party, on local radio Monday.

"But she'll take the helm of the party in the electoral campaign to make Oviedo's dream come true: for Paraguay's poor to be happy."

The U.S.-made Robinson 44 helicopter crashed on a farm some 120 miles (200 kilometers) from the capital Asuncion.

The helicopter's satellite transmissions system sent a meteorological signal every two minutes, and Paraguayan authorities have requested the helicopter's U.S. makers for any data that can help with the probe, , said Carlos Fugarazzo, head of Paraguay's civil aviation authority.