24th September, 2010
A top Nicaraguan diplomat was found dead with his throat slashed and his stomach stabbed.
The bloody body of CÃ©sar Mercado, 34, was discovered inside his New York apartment by hisÂ horrified driver.
The driver had turned up there at 10.35a.m .yesterday to pick Mercado up for the UnitedÂ Nations General Assemblyâ€™s annual meeting, where U.S. President Barack Obama gave aÂ speech.
He was last seen alive the day before.
Police said the driver had found the Bronx apartmentâ€™s door ajar.
When he peeked through, he saw Mercadoâ€™s body lying just inside the blood-spatteredÂ apartment.
It was initially thought one knife was used in the attack and was found near the body.
But investigators later determined there were two knives involved, a 12-inch steak knifeÂ found at the side of a blood-filled bathroom sink and a smaller paring knife found in theÂ sink.
Mercado was fully clothed, and the apartment did not appear to have been ransacked,Â police said. A police spokesman could not say whether he had defensive wounds on hisÂ body.
Neighbour Michele Figueroa, 19, said he heard a commotion in the apartment around 3 a.m.
â€˜I heard somebody banging on the wall. But I didnâ€™t pay attention,â€™ he told the New YorkÂ Daily News.
He said the diplomat was the type of friendly man who held doors open for others in theÂ building, but claimed they were not well-acquainted.
Now authorities are investigating a possible motive – but no suspects have beenÂ identified yet.
An assistant to Nicaraguaâ€™s ambassador to the United Nations says the mission couldnâ€™tÂ immediately release any information. Mercado came to the U.S. in 2001 to work as anÂ assistant in the office of Nicaraguaâ€™s ambassador to the United Nations, a friend said.
He was single and his family was in Nicaragua.
He eventually became consul general, working with passports and immigration visas.
The assistant to the ambassador said the mission couldnâ€™t immediately release anyÂ information.
Mercadoâ€™s friend Amparo Amador said he was like a son to her. Recently, sheâ€™d urged himÂ to go to the doctor because he looked thin, and he had been diagnosed with diabetes.
The two went to the wedding of another friend in Brooklyn just six days ago, where heÂ danced and had fun.
â€˜He had no enemies. He was loved by everyone who knew him,â€™ she said in Spanish.
â€˜When I first heard of his death, I thought he mustâ€™ve died from natural causes becauseÂ there would be no way he could be killed.â€™
She said he lived the life of a young, single guy, but he wasnâ€™t wild.
â€˜He was the perfect guy. The best person, just wonderful,â€™ she said.
â€˜I feel as if one of my children has died.â€™
However, it was unclear what his title was when he died.
The heads of more than 192 nations are in New York for the annual gathering at the UnitedÂ Nations Headquarters in Manhattan.
Among them is Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. He has vocally criticised the U.S. andÂ defended North Korea and Iran. He was expected to speak during the gathering.