Venezuela Still Seeking Extradition of Cuban Militant; Trial Continues in Texas

For five years, the Venezuelan lawyer, José Pertierra, has been seeking the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban militant and former C.I.A. operative, to stand trial in Venezuela in the bombing of a Cuban passenger jet in 1976, which killed everyone on board. But the State Department and the Justice Department have never presented the request to a federal judge.

Instead, the DOJ is prosecuting Posada, age 82, for having lied during two immigration hearings more than five years ago. Click here to read the DOJ press release.

To prove that Posada committed perjury, U.S. prosecutors plan to bring up evidence about bombings at Havana tourist spots in 1997. They say Posada took credit for those attacks in 1998, then later, under oath, denied that he had organized them.

But the trial is unlikely to shed light on his alleged role in the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 on October 6, 1976. The midair explosion killed 73 people, including teenagers from Cuba’s national fencing team.

A government informer, Carlos Abascal, testifying over five days last week, said he had traveled with Posada on a shrimp boat from the Yucatán Peninsula to Miami in 2005, where it landed at a waterfront restaurant, letting the old Cuban exile sneak into the United States. One part of the indictment charges Posada with lying under oath when he said he crossed through Mexico and entered the country in Brownsville, Texas.

A defense lawyer attacked Abascal’s credibility, interrogating him about his history of mental problems and showing records that documented schizophrenic episodes and hallucinations.

Venezuela has been demanding the extradition of Posada since he popped up in Miami, but the United States has so far rebuffed the request. Last June, the United States said in a diplomatic note that Venezuela had not presented enough evidence to show that the police had “probable cause” to arrest Posada for the bombing, Pertierra said.

The Justice and State Departments have declined comment on the case.

The United States’ position on Posada’s extradition was complicated in 2006, when an immigration judge in El Paso ruled that Posada should be deported but could not be sent back to Venezuela because he would probably face torture there.

American officials say that the immigration judge’s ruling and the perjury trial have tied their hands, but Venezuela has argued that neither should keep a federal judge from hearing the extradition case.

For a more in depth reading of the case against Posada, please click here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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