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Master of Scaremonies
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Paraguay man crucified in public

Protesters in Paraguay have staged a public crucifixion calling for a jailed former army general to be set free. Tomas Velazquez, a supporter of General Lino Oviedo, popular among Paraguay's indigenous people, was tied and nailed to a cross outside the Supreme Court.

Mr Velazquez called on the court to review Gen Oviedo's 10-year jail sentence for plotting a 1996 coup. Gen Oviedo remains popular in parts of Paraguay, with supporters saying his sentence was politically motivated. He was convicted by a military tribunal in 1998 of plotting to overthrow Paraguay's government. He was arrested after returning to Paraguay in 2004 from exile in Brazil.

In the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, dozens of Gen Oviedo's supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court for the dramatic crucifixion. Oviedo was convicted by a military tribunal but that is illegal in times of peace. Draped in banners calling for Gen Oviedo to be set free, Mr Velazquez was hoisted onto a wooden cross and tied by the arms and legs. Nails were then driven through the palms of his hands. Grimacing with pain, Mr Velazquez - who is also undergoing a hunger strike - demanded that Gen Oviedo's sentence be reviewed.

"The Supreme Court must review this conviction. In 1998, Oviedo was convicted by a military tribunal but that is illegal in times of peace. "We believe that he is being politically persecuted." The Associated Press reported that the Supreme Court said it would review the case as a matter of course.

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