The helicopter crash that killed Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Oviedo on Feb. 2 was caused by pilot error and no criminal acts were involved, Deputy Attorney General Federico Espinoza said.

"The pilot's spatial disorientation was caused by a severe storm and strong winds that destabilized the aircraft and produced a violent drop to the ground," Espinoza said.

Oviedo, leader of the UNACE party, was returning to Asuncion after taking part in a campaign rally in the city of Concepcion when his helicopter crashed.

Searchers found the bodies of Oviedo, his bodyguard and the pilot in the wreckage.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the helicopter as it was heading to the capital.

"There was no explosion or fire aboard the aircraft before or after the crash," leading investigators to "completely reject" the theory that the helicopter was the target of an attack, Espinoza said, citing the conclusions of the National Civil Aviation Administration, or Dinac, report on the accident.

The pilot took off on the night of Feb. 2 despite warnings that a "severe storm" was rolling into the area and the helicopter crahsed 27 minutes later, the deputy AG said.

Oviedo, a retired army general, helped lead the February 1989 coup that ended the dictatorhip of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner.

The general, who led an attempted coup in 1996, was accused of being involved in the March 23, 1999, assassination of Vice President Luis Maria Argaña.

Oviedo denied he was behind the vice president's assassination.

President Raul Cubas, a friend and political ally of Oviedo, resigned in the wake of the deaths of Argaña and seven young people killed in street violence sparked by the assassination.

After the killings, Oviedo fled to Argentina and later Brazil.

Oviedo returned to the country on June 29, 2004 - after five years as a fugitive - and was taken directly from the Asuncion airport to the Viñas Cue military prison. EFE