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Former Stroessner Minister Caught by Law He Used on Others

March 20, 1989

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) _ The minister of justice and labor under deposed President Alfredo Stroessner was charged Monday under a law he often used to harass political dissidents.

Also Monday, a Chilean convicted of participating in the September 1980 assassination of Anastasio Somoza, who was ousted as president of Nicaragua in July 1979, said he will appeal a police order expelling him from Paraguay.

Charges filed by Attorney General Diogenes Martinez said the former minister, Jose Eugenio Jacquet, would ″attack opponents of the former regime, calling them subversives and implicating them in terrorist plans.″

Jacquet’s statements and actions were ″an open incitement to violence, to disobedience of laws and a form of preaching hate between Paraguayans,″ the document said.

Law 209, titled ″In Defense of Public Peace and the Freedom of Persons,″ says anyone convicted of inciting violence or urging people to disobey laws can be given a jail sentence of one month to three years.

″Preaching hate between Paraguayans″ carries a sentence of one to six years.

The law also forbids defaming the president or his ministers. It often was used to detain opposition leaders for several days and sometimes for months.

Excerpts of Martinez’s charges published by the newspaper Ultima Hora cited an occasion in 1987 when Jacquet threatened to ″neutralize those who criticized″ the ruling Colorado Party’s leadership.

Gen. Stroessner was deposed Feb. 3 by Gen. Andres Rodriguez, a longtime associate, after ruling Paraguay for nearly 35 years. Opposition leaders have asked Rodriguez to repeal the law.

Manuel Modesto Esquivel, former director of the postal service, also was charged with violating Law 209. Days before the coup, he threatened to go into the streets with ″assault battalions″ to defend the Stroessner regime.

Both men are under arrest, charged with ″crimes against public administration″ that include fraud, embezzlement and bribery. Stroessner is in exile in Brazil.

Alejandro Mella Latorre, the 39-year-old Chilean convicted in Somoza’s death, was placed under house arrest Sunday.

After his release from prison Feb. 17, two weeks after Stroessner was ousted, Mella Latorre said, ″My roots are in Paraguay″ and that he would try to remain.

Police say, however, that Paraguayan law allows the expulsion of immigrants convicted of crimes punishable by more than two years in prison.

Mella Latorre claims not to have been involved in the assassination of Somoza, who was killed by bazooka and gunfire on an Asuncion street, but he served six years in jail for it and another two years for participating in January 1986 prison riot.

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