Slain Spanish Envoy Veteran Of Lebanon’s Violence With AM-Lebanon, Bjt
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Pedro Manuel de Aristegui, Spain’s ambassador to Lebanon who was killed by shellfire Sunday, was a veteran of Lebanon’s violence.
″If you’re afraid of death, you should leave the country,″ he said in a recent interview.
The bearded 61-year-old envoy was kidnapped briefly in West Beirut on Oct. 10, 1984, four months after he arrived in the Lebanese capital.
His abductors took him to the teeming southern slums of Beirut, a stronghold of pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem extremists, but they released him three hours later after intensive contacts by the government and security officials.
De Aristegui was luckier than most of the foreigners kidnapped by Moslem extremists in Lebanon. Others were killed and 15 still are held hostage, most of them by Shiite extremists.
On Sunday a 240mm howitzer shell blasted De Aristegui’s three-story villa in the Beirut suburb of Hadath, a Christian sector, during one of the fiercest artillery and rocket battles of the 14-year-old civil war.
The shell exploded as the ambassador and his family were having lunch, and De Aristegui was hit in the head by shrapnel. He died at a hospital two hours later.
His Lebanese wife, Jomana Awwad, was seriously wounded and his 3-year-old son, Diego Jr., suffered facial injuries.
Also killed were De Aristegui’s father-in-law, Lebanese poet Tewfic Youssef Awwad; Awwad’s other daughter, Samira, and a Lebanese bodyguard.
De Aristegui was the third Western ambassador killed in the civil war.
U.S. envoy Francis F. Meloy was killed by kidnappers in Moslem west Beirut on June 16, 1976. French Ambassador Louis de Lamar was shot dead by gunmen in the city’s Moslem sector on Sept. 4, 1981.
De Aristegui was born in the Basque town of Irun in Spain on Oct. 17, 1927. After entering government service, he was secretary at the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela and the consulate in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He later was Spanish consul in New York and was assigned to Spain’s U.N. mission in May 1969. He also served as consul-general in Hamburg, West Germany, and Cordoba, Argentina.
In 1977, De Aristegui was named ambassador to Nicaragua and in 1980 he became governor of Spain’s Basque province of Guipuzcoa. He took the Beirut post four years later.