MANAGUA, NICARAGUA -- Carlos Nunez Tellez, 39, the former National Assembly speaker who helped plot and direct the Sandinista revolution that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza, died Oct. 2 in Havana.

Sandinista Party spokesman Dionisio Marenco said Mr. Nunez died of a heart attack in Havana, where he had gone in January for radiation treatment of an undisclosed ailment.

Mr. Nunez was a senior leader of the opposition leftist Sandinista party. He gained fame as one of the nine Commanders of the Revolution of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the masterminds who led the July 1979 overthrow of rightist President Somoza.

The Somoza dynasty had ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for 42 years. The dictatorship was overthrown after a year of fighting in which human rights groups said more than 42,000 people were killed.

The nine became Commanders of the Revolution -- an honorary, lifetime title -- and formed the National Directorate, the party's top-echelon inner core.

He was born to a humble family in the northern city of Leon. He and his elder brother Rene joined the underground Sandinista movement in 1969. Carlos Nunez immediately was placed in charge of the Sandinista political front in Leon. He was shifted to Managua, where he rose steadily through the ranks.

He was secretly sent out of the country to receive military and guerrilla training. He returned in June 1979 to direct Sandinista sabotage and agitation during the Battle of Managua that sealed the Somoza regime's fate.

Mr. Nunez was on the Council of State, a temporary ruling body set up by the Sandinistas, and in 1984 was elected speaker of the National Assembly, Nicaragua's single-house legislature. He steered through most of the revolutionary legislation, including measures that gave Nicaragua greater literacy and an improved health care system.

The Sandinistas lost in general elections last February to a 14-party coalition led by President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. However, both Mr. Nunez and his wife, Milu Vargas, were reelected deputies in the assembly.

In addition to his wife, survivors include four children.