WASHINGTON HEIGHTS - Family and friends came together last night for the wake of the Nicaraguan diplomat who was found dead in his Bronx apartment last week.

Cesar Mercado's body was discovered in Tremont Thursday. Police say the victim's throat was slit, he suffered 12 stab wounds to his stomach and a clump of hair was found in his hands.

Although authorities say some of Mercado's wounds may have been self-inflicted, his sister says her 34-year-old brother would've never killed himself.

"He was a very religious man, a strong believer in God," Laura Mercado says.

Last week, however, neighbors say they had seen a change in Mercado's demeanor.

Police have not yet ruled whether Mercado's death is a homicide or a suicide. His body will be flown back to his native Nicaragua today for burial.