Lino Oviedo, who led an attempted coup in Paraguay and then fled in March and was granted asylum in Argentina, has evaded his police guards and disappeared, the Argentine government and his wife said today.
Unconfirmed Paraguayan news reports said the 56-year-old former army chief flew in a private plane back to Paraguay, where he was likely to face arrest over the murder of Vice President Luis Maria Argana.
Paraguayan police and military were put on alert for the outbreak of possible protests after word of Oviedo's return.
"He has left," Oviedo's Argentine wife, Raquel Marin, told reporters when asked about his whereabouts. "I can't say when, where or how--only God and him know."
Marin said Oviedo made the move so that Argentina's new Alliance government of Fernando de la Rua, which takes power Friday, would no longer have to deal with his "burden."
The Alliance has said that once in power, it would kick Oviedo out of Argentina.
Paraguay wants the former cavalryman extradited to face trial for the death of Argana and six demonstrators in rioting following Argana's assassination in March, and to serve a 10-year sentence for a coup attempt in 1996.
Oviedo fled his country after his protege, Raul Cubas, was forced to quit as president because of the murder of Argana, a political rival.
Argentine Interior Minister Carlos Corach said he did not know the whereabouts of Oviedo but said by leaving the country, the asylum granted him by Argentina's outgoing President Carlos Menem would automatically expire.
In Argentina, Oviedo was first allowed to stay on a ranch near Buenos Aires, but was later banished to the icy southern island of Tierra del Fuego after he broke an agreement not to publicly discuss Paraguayan politics. The former general protested to no avail that the windy Fuegian climate could cause his recent hair transplant to come unstuck.