Activists hail new indictment of Luis Posada Carilles

04/09/09 Mitch E. Perry
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A federal grand jury yesterday handed up a new indictment against Luis Posada Carriles, for the first time linking the Cuban exile militant in a U.S. legal proceeding to a series of 1997 tourist-site bombings in Cuba that killed an Italian national.

The indictment came from a grand jury in El Paso, Texas. It does not directly accuse him of planting or plotting the bombing, but accuses him of perjury and obstruction of a U.S. investigation into international terrorism.

The 81-year-old former CIA operative and U.S. Army soldier has denied wrongdoing. His El Paso lawyer, Felipe Millan, said Posada plans to plead not guilty. His trial is set for Aug. 10. Posada previously pleaded not guilty to immigration fraud charges.

This is the first time the U.S. government has said he was involved in the Cuba bombings since he arrived in the U.S. four years ago seeking asylum.

The Miami Herald reports that the FBI in Miami has been gathering evidence about the 1997 bombing. They report that federal agents have traveled to the Havana as well to investigate Posada's connection to the attacks.

Posada is also wanted in his native Cuba and Venezuela, where he is a naturalized citizen, on charges that he plotted the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner.

Jose Pertierra is the attorney for the Venezuelan government in the extradition matter of Posada Carilles. He said Venezuela calls the indictment a positive first step.

Pertierra said the government of Venezuala insists that the U.S. should still expedite Carilles for the 1976 bombings.

Brian Beckner is the National Director ANSWER Coalition, which has conducted a national campaign to extradite Posada since 2005.

In September 2005, a U.S. immigration judge ruled that Posada cannot be deported, claiming that he faces the threat of torture in Venezuela. But advocates said today that was based on lies, and that he should be deported.

Posada Carilles is due to be arraigned in court on April 17.

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