Presidential Paternity Suit Roils Paraguay

By Pedro Servin
Associated Press
April 9, 2009

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Lawyers filed a paternity suit against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo on Wednesday, alleging that a son was born to the former Roman Catholic bishop five months after he abandoned the church for politics.

But the woman named in the complaint quickly distanced herself from the suit, and her lawyers said they would withdraw it.

Lugo's spokesman said the claim "must be false," while another official close to the president called the allegation a smear campaign.

"There must have been someone who wanted to harm the image of the president," Lugo legal adviser Emilio Camacho told Radio 1.

The suit was filed in the southern city of Encarnacion on behalf of Viviana Rosali Carrillo Canete, who claimed to have had a relationship with Lugo, lawyer Claudio Kostinochok told reporters earlier in the day.

"We turned to the courts after conversations between my client and the president failed to reach an amicable settlement on recognizing paternity," Kostinochok said.

Court secretary Jorge Madrazzo confirmed the filing to The Associated Press and said a judge would have until next Wednesday to accept or reject it.

But Carrillo later was quoted by newspaper ABC Color as saying she "categorically" denied approving the lawsuit. She declined to speak further, citing privacy concerns for the child.

Her account was different from that of her lawyers — who said she signed documents authorizing the filing, and may either have negotiated a deal separately or gotten scared after the story blew up in the news media.

"We wanted Lugo to take charge of the boy's care," said attorney Walter Acosta, one of the filers of the suit.

He added that without the woman's support, lawyers would withdraw the complaint on Monday when courts reopen after the Easter holidays.

Lugo officials complained that with offices closed, they were blindsided and had little information about the lawsuit.

"It must be false," Lugo spokesman Augusto Dos Santos told Catholic radio station Caritas. "I find it interesting that the suit was filed right in the middle of Holy Week, when everything is calm."

Lugo, 57, resigned as bishop of San Pedro in 2004. In December 2006, he announced that he was renouncing the status of bishop itself to run for president.

According to Kostinochok, the boy was born about five months later. "This May 4 their son will turn 2 years old," he told reporters.

The Vatican insisted during the campaign for the April 2008 election that Lugo would always be a bishop under church law, and it was not until late July, just days before Lugo's inauguration, that Pope Benedict XVI gave him unprecedented permission to resign.

Earlier Wednesday, Mario Melanio Medina, bishop of Misiones department, recommended that Lugo agree to a DNA test to clarify the matter.

"In situations like this, you have to be transparent," he said.

Kostinochok said the boy is named Guillermo Armindo in honor of Lugo's grandfather.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.