Fernando Lugo impeached after trial in Paraguay (UPDATE)


Who's your daddy? Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.


Norberto Duarte

Paraguay's Senate has voted to impeach the country's President Fernando Lugo, after lawyers argued his case during a trial on Friday, BBC News reported

Federico Franco, the vice president, is now expected to take over as the country's leader until the end of Lugo's five-year term in 2013, according to BBC. 

Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, had asked the Supreme Court to stop the trial and announced he would not be defending himself in person, according to BBC News.

Both of Paraguay's houses of parliament voted Thursday to begin the president's impeachment trial over the way he handled clashes between farmers and police, where at least 17 people died.

The senate has removed Lugo from his seat less than a year before his term is set to end, reported Reuters. Lugo has refused to resign, even after church leaders pressured him to step down to defuse tension. His defense team has asked the Court to intervene, saying the impeachment violates the constitution.

More from GlobalPost: Paraguayan President Lugo faces impeachment

"The president has been given fewer guarantees and fewer rights to defend himself than someone with a traffic fine," said one of Lugo's lawyers, Adolfo Ferreiro, to Reuters. "They seem to think anything can be justified in the name of politics."

Lugo came to power after the conservative Colorado Party's 61-year rule, Time Magazine reported, which was led for 35 years by dictator General Alfredo Stroessner.

However, Lugo, became enmeshed in several scandals. He was accused of fathering a child while he was a bishop, and Colorado politicians (who still control Paraguay's congress) accused the President of politicizing the military and not seeking congress' proper approval for international treaties, according to Time.

Lugo's bad reputation came to a head on June 15, when six police officers and 11 landless peasant farmers were killed in a shootout in the remote town of Curuguaty, according to Time. A Colorado politician who owns the disputed land accused Lugo of supporting the leftist groups that staged the attack. 

According to the Associated Press, thousands of demonstrators defended Lugo in Asuncion's main square in front of Congress, waving flags and chanting slogans, including: "The people, united, will never be defeated!" Police had to separate groups of pro- and anti-Lugo protesters.

Many fear the vote could prompt violent protests in the streets of Paraguay.