A fugitive has been arrested over a pregnant 10-year-old girl’s rape in Paraguay, amid growing anger over the government’s refusal to allow an abortion.
Police issued a statement saying the man had been detained in the city of Caazapa, around 125 miles (200 kilometres) southeast of capital Asuncion.
Gilberto Benitez Zarate, 42, insisted he was innocent and had been set up by his girlfriend. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted of rape.
“I will do any (paternity) test to show it wasn’t me,” he said.
“I’ve been with tons of women and I never got anybody pregnant.”
Abortion is illegal in the South American nation and the matter prompted a heated abortion debate in both houses of the country’s Congress.
International humanitarian groups say the girl’s 75-pound (34 kilo) body cannot support her pregnancy, now at five months, and her life is in danger.
But the government, courts, the Catholic Church and other groups have insisted the pregnancy should not be terminated, partly due to its advanced stage.
“The pregnancy will not be interrupted,” Health Minister Antonio Barrios has said.
“We’ve already completely ruled out abortion.”
The girl’s pregnancy was not discovered until 21 April, when her mother took her to a public health clinic believing she had a tumour.
The mother was also detained by authorities, who believe she enabled her daughter’s abuse.
Her daughter is being cared for in a special ward for pregnant adolescents at a Red Cross Hospital.