INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Paraguay: Update On Cubas and Debernardi

Published: Fri 2 Sep 2005 04:40 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
021640Z Sep 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASUNCION 001119
SIPDIS
STATE FOR WHA A/S NORIEGA AND PDAS DERHAM
STATE ALSO FOR DS/T/ATA
STATE PASS TO USAID LAC/AA
BUENOS AIRES FOR LEGATT WILLIAM GODOY
NSC FOR SUE CRONIN
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD DAN JOHNSON
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/02/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PINR SNAR KCRM PA CO BR
SUBJECT: PARAGUAY: UPDATE ON CUBAS AND DEBERNARDI
KIDNAPPING INVESTIGATIONS
REF: A. ASUNCION 1012
B. ASUNCION 668 AND PRECEDING
C. 04 ASUNCION 1449 AND PRECEDING
Classified By: PolOff Mark A. Stamilio, reason 1.4(d).
1. (SBU) Summary: In recent months, Paraguayan authorities
filed formal charges against 14 of 28 suspects in the
kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas and located the house
where kidnappers held Maria Edith Bordon de Debernardi for 64
days in 2001. Members of the left-wing Patria Libre Party
(PPL) are implicated in both kidnappings. Prosecutors intend
to present evidence that the PPL sought advice from the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). They believe
that recent stirrings in San Pedro Department suggest that
radical groups are actively planning additional kidnappings.
They stressed Paraguayan authorities' need for hostage
negotiation training, and requested that the FBI assist in
identifying the voices of several suspects on a PPL video
tape seized in 2003. End Summary.
2. (U) In late July, the Attorney General's office filed
formal charges against 14 of 28 suspects in the kidnapping
and murder of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former President
Raul Cubas (ref B). Although all 14 of the defendants are
Paraguayan nationals, the charges also implicate the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the crime.
The lead prosecutor in the Cubas case, Arnaldo Giuzzio,
announced that he intended to present evidence at trial that
the kidnappers sought the FARC's advice in planning and
executing the crime.
3. (U) In June, authorities located the house where
kidnappers held Maria Edith Bordon de Debernardi for 64 days
in 2001 (ref B). A confessed accessory to the crime led
prosecutors to the house, which is located in a middle-class
Asuncion neighborhood. The search of the house revealed an
underground chamber similar to the one where Ms. Cubas' body
was discovered in February. Following the search, the lead
prosecutor in the Debernardi case, Nestor Suarez, opined that
the same gang was responsible for both kidnappings.
4. (SBU) Comment: Members of the left-wing Patria Libre Party
(PPL) are implicated in both kidnappings. PPL leaders Juan
Arrom and Anuncio Marti were accused of orchestrating the
Debernardi kidnapping. They were later granted refugee
status in Brazil after they allegedly were tortured by
authorities in Paraguay. A militant PPL faction led by Osmar
Martinez is charged with responsibility for the Cubas
kidnapping and murder. Paraguayan authorities believe that
at least three of the suspects in the Cubas kidnapping also
were involved in the Debernardi kidnapping. Lawyers
representing the Cubas family are pressing the Attorney
General's office to look more closely at links between the
two cases. If prosecutors were to connect Arrom and/or Marti
to the Cubas case, it could lead the GOP to increase pressure
on Brazil to extradite them to Paraguay.
5. (SBU) Comment continued: Giuzzio told PolOff on August 16
that Paraguayan authorities had arrested an individual who
was attempting to buy a house in San Pedro Department using a
false identity. San Pedro is a center of radical PPL
activity. While the individual arrested was not a PPL
member, Giuzzio fears that he was seeking to purchase the
house on behalf of the PPL in preparation for another PPL
kidnapping. Giuzzio's fears may be justified since, in
similar fashion, the PPL employed a third party to purchase
the house where Ms. Cubas was held.
6. (C) Comment continued: Giuzzio also told PolOff that,
within the week, the Attorney General's office expected to
receive from a journalist in San Pedro Department a copy of a
video tape showing another criminal gang rehearsing to
execute a kidnapping. In 2003, authorities seized a similar
tape during the search of a house that belonged to one of the
suspects in the Debernardi case. The gang on the new tape is
reportedly associated with Elvio Benitez, the purported
leader of a campesino organization responsible for protests
and land invasion in San Pedro (ref C). Police and military
officials suspect that Benitez is involved in marijuana
trafficking. During the Ambassador's recent trip to San
Pedro (ref A), a school teacher in the municipality of Santa
Rosa told an Embassy driver that Benitez controls activity in
the area like an organized crime boss. Considering the
estimated USD 1.3 million that the PPL extorted in the Cubas
and Debernardi kidnappings, it is conceivable that Benitez
would turn next to kidnapping as a means to increase his
organization's revenue.
7. (SBU) Comment continued: Giuzzio inquired about possible
USG assistance in two areas. First, Giuzzio stressed
Paraguayan authorities' need for hostage negotiation
training, particularly in light of what he perceives to be
preparations for additional kidnappings. Giuzzio was a
member of the Paraguayan delegation that attended the FBI's
kidnapping crime scene management training in Bogota in
April. He feels that hostage negotiation training would be
an essential complement to the Bogota training. PolOff
advised Giuzzio that a Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism
Assistance (DS/ATA) assessment conducted in June would serve
as the basis for determining what GOP training needs the U.S.
could look to meet.
8. (SBU) Comment continued: Second, Giuzzio requested
technical assistance in identifying the voices of several
suspects on the PPL video tape seized in 2003. He told
PolOff that voices in the background sounded like
Brazilian-accented Portuguese and Colombian-accented Spanish.
With technical assistance from the FBI, he opined, the
Attorney General's office could positively identify one of
the Portuguese speakers as a Brazilian suspect in the case.
He also felt it would be useful to confirm whether Colombian
nationals advised the kidnappers in the Debernardi case, as
they are believed to have done in the Cubas case. Giuzzio
indicated that he would submit a written request for
assistance, along with a copy of the video tape.
9. (SBU) Comment continued: On August 30, in one of his final
acts as Attorney General, Oscar Latorre removed Giuzzio and
Suarez from the Cubas case. Although Latorre characterized
the move as a routine realignment of personnel, the timing of
the decision -- on the last day he was empowered to do so and
just days before an October 6 preliminary hearing in the
Cubas case -- led to intense speculation about more sinister
motives. Giuzzio and Suarez reportedly do not get along with
Javier Cazal, the head of the Judicial Investigations Unit
and a personal friend of Latorre. Giuzzio and Suarez
reportedly kept Cazal on the sidelines during the Cubas
investigation, perhaps because he had been a subject in the
investigation of the alleged torture of Arrom and Marti.
Latorre's successor, Ruben Candia Amarilla, told the press on
August 31 that he would review Latorre's decision and
reinstate Giuzzio and Suarez if it appeared that their
removal was the product of a personal or political grudge.
KEANE
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