Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ex-hijacker's startling confession

Letter from a hijacker
William Potts, awaiting trial for hijacking a plane to Cuba in 1984, says he is terrified of flying and haunted by the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
In a letter to Along the Malecón, Potts wrote:
Now approaching what appears to be the end of this "odesia" (Spanish is so much simpler) sitting here now in my North American cell, offers me a relentless and ever expanding opportunity to reflect back on the "chapters and scenes of all the places I've been." (The hijacking and its aftermath).
But really I just want to forget it and get on with my life. Years ago after I had completed my sentence and was embarking on raising a family, amidst my increasing joy, paradoxically enough, I fell into a deep depression that was extremely difficult for me to shake.
I was horrified by images of plane crashes that would arise unbiddened into my mind, and I became terrorized at the thought that I could have provoked such a terrible thing.

At the time it got so bad I considered getting some therapy, but finally just toughed it out. It still bothers me, though.
I know that it's never gonna go away. Perhaps it's just poetic justice that I will forever be terrorized of that act of terrorism.
Potts is being held at the eight-story Main Jail next to the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. He wrote:
I went into the TV room here and they were talking about that Malaysian airliner that disappeared only God knows where. I was hoping like crazy that they'd find it, maybe having an emergency landing somewhere.
Someone asked me, I didn't turn around to see who, if I had anything to do with it. I said no. They didn't mean any harm. They were just bored and being assholes. Everyone started to laugh and joke about it. It wasn't funny to me and I just asked like I couldn't hear them.
Agriculture is what I need. It's always worked for me. After I'm released just as soon as I can I'm going back to Cuba, buy me a farm and grow food and raise white chickens and carneros and sell them to all the embassies of all the Islamic countries accredited in Cuba.
It might be premature, but I am optimistic that I will be free soon...
Calls fear of flying "poetic justice"
Potts' trial had been scheduled for April 14, but was pushed to April 28, according to a court order filed today.
Potts' lawyer, Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender Robert N. Berube, blamed the State Department for the delay.
On Feb. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum had asked the State Department to produce documents related to the case. Potts needs the documents for his case because they will show that American diplomats visited him in prison in Cuba, proving he did jail time there.
Lawyers in the case didn't receive the State Department documents until March 24. On April 7, another batch of documents and a CD arrived.
Berube said he hasn't had time to review all the material with Potts. He wrote:
Undersigned counsel is well aware that the Court does not condone unnecessary delay in cases moving forward. However, in this instance the delay was attributed to the Department of State.
The documents in the possession of the Department of State approached 650 pages. All of the documents have not been reviewed with the Defendant at this time. Additionally, the Government filed a smaller supplemental response yesterday. These documents are not as voluminous, however, included in the mailing was a “CD.”
Undersigned counsel has not reviewed the “CD,” nor has there been sufficient time to show these documents to the Defendant.
Undersigned counsel has been in negotiations with the government attempting to resolve this case throughout this time frame, unfortunately the negotiations have not come to fruition.
Rosenbaum agreed to reset the trial for 9 a.m. April 28. A calendar call in the case was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. April 23.
Potts told me in his letter that he had hoped that the government this week would offer him an acceptable plea bargain.
...I'm hopeful that it will be of a kind which will allow me to go home.
Prosecutors had indicated they were willing to give him credit for time served in Cuba. Potts wrote:
This is a very encouraging sign, but you never know how it will all play out until the deal is done.
Discovery material, Potts said, included a document showing that the U.S. government, evidently the State Department, was recommending as far back as 1997 that he be given credit for time served in Cuba. Potts wrote:
Well, nobody ever told me.
Potts' daughters
And if he had known?
...I certainly would have returned home. I was told quite the opposite, that I would in all likelihood go to prison in the U.S. Having already completed 15 years in prison the idea of spending more years, this time in a U.S. prison, didn't particularly appeal to me, and so I opted to stay in Cuba and "live among the Indians."
I'm not complaining. Had I returned I might not have had the two excellent daughters that I have now, who to a great extent are all that made the tragic episode worthwhile.
Once his legal troubles are over and he's a free man, Potts hopes to return to Cuba. He wrote:
Agriculture is what I need. It's always worked for me. After I'm released just as soon as I can I'm going back to Cuba, buy me a farm and grow food and raise white chickens and carneros and sell them to all the embassies of all the Islamic countries accredited in Cuba.
It might be premature, but I am optimistic that I will be free soon...

No comments: