Posada may face extradition to Panama

Campaign News | Thursday, 3 July 2008

Ex-CIA operative may face extradition

Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative hailed as a hero in Miami and reviled as a terrorist in Cuba and Venezuela, could face extradition to Panama.

Panama's Supreme Court said Tuesday it had overturned presidential pardons for 180 people, including Posada Carriles and four associates.

Panamanian courts ruled there was not enough evidence to try the four on charges of attempted murder of Fidel Castro, but sentenced them for endangering public safety.

Former President Mireya Moscoso granted pardons to Posada, Gaspar Jimenez, Guillermo Novo and Pedro Remon.

Prosecutor: Judge improperly dismissed immigration fraud charges against anti-Castro militant The defendants maintained they were in Panama to help a Cuban general who supposedly had planned to seek political asylum.

Moscoso granted the pardons in August 2004, just before leaving office. Posada has long been Cuba's most-wanted man. Venezuela and Cuba accuse him of masterminding the bombing of an airliner that killed 73 people. Cuba claims he also organized a series of explosions at Cuban hotels that killed an Italian man.

Posada has denied the allegations. But Rep. William Delahunt convened a congressional hearing in November on the administration's handling of the Posada case in which the Massachusetts Democrat argued there was "compelling evidence" implicating Posada in the plane bombing.

Posada eventually returned to the United States and was detained on charges of immigration fraud. A U.S. judge dismissed seven counts against him in May 2007, ruling that agents were deceitful in interviews with him. Prosecutors are appealing the decision.

Posada's attorney in Panama, Rogelio Cruz, said he thinks Panama may request his client's extradition from the United States.

"Given the good relations between President [Martin] Torrijos and the Cuban government, I have no doubt that Panama will ask for the four anti-Castro militants to be extradited from the U.S.," he said.

In South Florida, few believe Posada would face trial in Panama.

"The United States is not simply going to ship off to Panama a man who has fought for the liberty of Cuba and of this country as a member of the CIA. It would be a betrayal of freedom and democracy," said Miami resident Rodolfo Frometa of Comandos F-4 a group that advocates taking up arms against the Castro regime.

Staff Writer Tal Abbady and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

c. South Florida Sun Sentinal

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