Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua united over Posada

Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua presented a united front of condemnation of a US court's decision to drop charges against Luis Posada Carriles, a convicted terrorist and mass murderer who escaped from prison where he was serving time for a lethal passenger plane bombing.

At a joint press conference in Caracas, the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela said Washington is responsible for the liberation of Luis Posada Carriles, who is being sought for extradition by Venezuela and Cuba for acts of terrorism.

Nicaragua is also seeking extradition for Posada Carriles' support of the Contras during the bloody civil war in the Central American country in the 1980s.

US District Judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed all seven counts of immigration fraud on Tuesday, based on a motion filed by the defence, only three days before Posada Carriles' trial was due to begin in a Texas court, a spokeswoman for his lawyer confirmed to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Posada Carriles, 79, is accused by Havana and Caracas of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, which killed 73 people. Posada was convicted in Venezuela of being one of the masterminds of the bombing, but he escaped from prison after eight years and joined US- directed covert counterinsurgency operations in Central America.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque charged that the US wants Posada free because he is threatening to reveal details about the operations he took part in when he was a CIA operative, at a time when the current US president's father George HW Bush was head of the organization.

'It is not (just luck) that Luis Posada Carriles is at large. He is free because there is a plan devised by the White House, authorized by President George W Bush, to prevent Posada from being in prison,' the Cuban minister stressed.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro added that he hopes the people of the US will demand that their 'terrorist-protecting' government try Posada or hand him over to Venezuela.

'The United States is laughing at international organizations, at international law and at human conscience on this case,' he said.

Perez Roque called Posada 'the bloodiest terrorist in the hemisphere,' and said the court decision proved the 'hypocrisy and double standards' of the United States government.
The Nicaraguan Foreign Minister also condemned the court decision in a statement Wednesday, referring to Posada Carriles as a confessed terrorist 'who has caused death and pain to hundreds of families following a series of criminal attacks.'

Nicaragua insisted on its request for the extradition of the Cuban exile to answer for his support of the Contras during the bloody civil war in the Central American country in the 1980s.

Posada Carriles, who entered the US illegally in March 2005 and played hide-and-seek with reporters and federal justice officials for weeks in Miami, faced trial in the US on charges that he lied to immigration officials and on an application to obtain US citizenship last year.
US courts have refused extradition requests for the one-time CIA operative, saying that Posada Carriles could face torture in Venezuela or Cuba.

In addition to his conviction for the passenger plane bombing, Posada was convicted in 2000 in Panama of attempting to murder Cuban President Fidel Castro, but was pardoned four years later by a Panamanian president closely allied with the US.
Cuba has also accused Posada Carriles of masterminding a string of 1997 bombings at Cuban tourist sites, in which one Italian tourist was killed.
In an article published on Tuesday, Cuban President Fidel Castro called Posada Carriles a 'monster' and once again condemned the earlier decision to free him on bail.
US prosecutors were still reviewing Tuesday's ruling and had not yet decided whether to appeal, The Miami Herald reported, citing a US Justice Department spokesman.
In an added provocation to Cuba, Washington on Wednesday revealed that the US military plans to build a 16.6-million-dollar migrant housing centre at its Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba to handle any refugee surge from the region.
Speculation has focussed on a possible exodus of Cubans seeking to reach the United States when the island's communist ruler dies.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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