Friday, April 16, 2010

Cuba says drugs, alcohol caused Chilean's death

Cuba says drugs, alcohol caused Chilean's death
Friday, April 16, 2010; 2:35 AM

HAVANA (Reuters) - A Chilean businessman found dead this week in Cuba
following questioning in a corruption investigation died of "acute
respiratory insufficiency" caused by a mixture of drugs and alcohol, the
Cuban government said in a statement on Friday.

The death of Roberto Baudrand, 59, whose body was found in his Havana
apartment on Tuesday, prompted speculation he may have killed himself
over a Cuban probe involving government agencies and companies,
including a joint venture he managed, but the statement did not say
whether he died by suicide or other means.

It did not say how much alcohol Baudrand had consumed nor which drugs
were in his system, in findings said to be based on a preliminary
investigation and autopsy by Cuba's Institute of Legal Medicine.

On Thursday, sources close to the case and Baudrand's family said they
had been told preliminary autopsy results found he had died of a heart

The Chilean government has asked for a full investigation by Cuban

Baudrand was manager of food firm Rio Zaza, a joint venture between the
Cuban government and Chilean businessman Max Marambio, a former
bodyguard for the late Chilean President Salvador Allende who became a
close ally of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

In its statement, the government confirmed for the first time that Rio
Zaza was under investigation for "the presumed commission of
irregularities and violations of laws."

It said a group of Chilean executives have been implicated, but with the
exception of Baudrand they had "abandoned the country" or not shown up
for questioning.

Baudrand had been requested to stay in Cuba until the investigation was
finished, the statement said.

Foreign media and dissident blogs have reported the probe was linked to
the recent dismissal of longtime Cuban Civil Aviation Minister Rogelio
Acevedo, but the government made no mention of him.

Marambio's lawyer, Eduardo Contreras, told Reuters on Thursday he
believed Baudrand died of natural causes but could not rule out suicide.

"Roberto was a depressive person and had hypertension. When I traveled
to Havana, he had me bring medicines several times," the lawyer said. "I
saw that Robert was very nervous, very tense," Contreras added.

One of Baudrand's relatives told Chilean media on Wednesday he had heart
problems and likely died of a heart attack.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Todd Eastham)

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