Investigation continues into diplomat's death

(09/24/10) NEW YORK - (AP) - A Nicaraguan diplomat found dead in hisapartment was grasping hair in both hands that investigators wereanalyzing and at least some of his wounds appeared to have beenself-inflicted, police said Friday.

Investigators haven't determined whether Cesar Mercado's deathwas a homicide or suicide, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Mercado's body was found Thursday by a driver who had come totake him to his job at the United Nations, where Mercado wasgeneral consul.

Mercado, 34, usually arrived by subway at about 7:30 a.m., butwhen he didn't show up, the driver went to the apartment anddiscovered the door unlocked. He opened it to find Mercado's bodyon the ground. His clothes were drenched in blood and he waswearing socks but no shoes. He had been stabbed and his throat hadbeen slashed.

The bathroom sink of the studio apartment was full of blood andtwo knives were found, a 19-inch knife and a smaller knife insidethe sink, police said.

Mercado was stabbed a dozen times in the abdomen, but itappeared from the initial autopsy that some of the wounds may havebeen self-inflicted, Kelly said Friday. More investigation wasneeded to determine a cause of death, he said.

Kelly described the slashes as "hesitation wounds," meaningthey were not clean, decisive wounds that are often made whensomeone aims to kill.

"It's something that causes the medical examiner to pause forthought," Kelly said.

Security cameras were not working in Mercado's Bronx apartmentbuilding, but police were canvassing the area for any other useablevideo. Mercado was last seen by neighbors about 3 p.m. Wednesdayafternoon. They also were examining cell phone records.

Nicaraguan officials were working with U.S. officials to help inthe investigation and arrest those responsible, Nicaragua'sPermanent Mission at the United Nations said in a statement Friday.

Mercado's body was being sent back to his home city of Masatepe,Nicaragua, for burial in the coming days.

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