US judge frees Cuban wanted over bombing
Campaign News | Thursday, 10 May 2007
Duncan Campbell, The Guardian
A US judge has dismissed all charges against an anti-Castro Cuban exile wanted for the 1976 bombing of an airliner in which 73 people died. The move provoked anger yesterday in Cuba and Venezuela amid accusations of double standards in terrorism cases.
Luis Posada, 79, a former CIA operative, was due to stand trial tomorrow in El Paso, Texas, on immigration fraud charges, over claims that he had entered the US illegally. District court judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed those charges on the grounds that the case had been based on deception, in that Mr Posada thought he was taking part in an immigration interview when it was, in fact, a criminal interview.
Unless immigration officials pursue fresh charges, Mr Posada will be free to stay in Miami, where he is based.
The Venezuelan ambassador to the US, Bernardo Álvarez Herrera, said: "Should Posada be allowed to escape justice for his vicious crimes it will send a powerful message to the international community that some terrorism is acceptable."
Mr Posada is wanted in Caracas and Havana for the bombing of a plane en route from Venezuela to Cuba. He has always denied the charge, although he admitted to a journalist that he was involved in the planning of hotel bombings in Havana in which a tourist was killed. He has since withdrawn this admission. He was jailed in Panama in 2000 for plotting to kill Fidel Castro but pardoned in 2004.
His emergence in Miami two years ago embarrassed the US government which charged him with illegal entry but declined to send him to Venezuela or Cuba, saying he would not get a fair trial.