Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Friend says accused bomber isn't a criminal

Luis Posada Carriles as a young man. Among his past aliases: Ramon Medina, Lobo and Solo.

Luis Posada Carriles was not responsible for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane that killed all 73 people aboard, one of his longtime friends said Wednesday.
Posada Carriles has "definitely gotten a bum deal," but he hopes to prevail at his perjury trial that begins in El Paso in March, his friend Alberto Pardo Herreros said:
He’s prepared for the worst and expects justice to be done. That’s how it works. Let’s hope there is justice.
There’s law and there’s justice, so I hope justice is done, OK?
Prosecutors accuse Posada Carriles of perjury, obstruction, naturalization fraud and making a false statement in a naturalization proceeding. A hearing in his case is set for Feb. 5 and the trial is scheduled to start March 1.
Cuban-born Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative, has been fighting Cuba's socialist government for decades. He was trained at Fort Benning in Georgia and was involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Since then, authorities in Venezuela, Panama and Cuba have connected him to a series of covert actions, including the 1976 downing of the Cubana airliner, a 2000 plot to kill Fidel Castro and a string of bombings in Havana in 1997.
Posada Carriles slipped into the United States on March 18, 2005, without going through any customs or immigration inspections, and filed for asylum on April 19, 2005. He failed to appear for an asylum interview on May 17, 2005, saying he was too ill, but he managed to hold a press conference that day.
Fed up, U.S. authorities arrested him and began proceedings to deport him.
On Jan. 11, Posada Carriles' lawyers filed a court document saying that the defendant planned to travel from South Florida to his trial in El Paso aboard a private charter jet.
The document identified Herreros as the man who owned the plane and was paying for the trip.
Herreros asked that questions about the plane be directed to Posada Carriles' lawyers.
On Jan. 25, defense lawyer Arturo V. Hernandez told me the plane trip plans were being revised because the jet was undergoing maintenance.
I asked Herreros how he wound up supporting Posada Carriles. He said:
It’s a very personal thing. I’ve known him for quite a while. Let’s say over 10 years.
I said that perhaps Posada Carriles and his supporters believe that news organizations have treated him unfairly. Herreros said:
Of course. He’s definitely got a bum deal there. He’s an anti-Castro man, what can I tell you?
It doesn’t jibe with, it doesn’t go along with our times now, especially with the administration now.
Herreros was referring to the Obama administration. There's no doubt, I told Herreros, that some anti-Castro activists believe Barack Obama has been soft on Cuba's socialist government. Herreros said:
Whoever told you that, they’re completely right.
I said some people may regard Posada Carriles as a hero. Herrero said:
It’s not a question of hero, it’s a question of standing for the right beliefs and political view. It’s not a question of being a hero.
He has fought quite a bit for what he believes is a good cause, which being center right or extreme right, whatever he is.
I think he’s what they call center right. In other words, he’s not a communist, let’s put it that way. I know he’s not. That I know.
Posada Carriles will be 82 on Feb. 15. His doctor says he can't go to his trial in El Paso by car from Florida because his health is too fragile. Herreros said:
He’s up in age and he’s also not in very good health.
But, Herreros said, Posada Carriles is in good spirits.
Herreros was a gentleman when I talked to him by phone tonight. I appreciate that, especially since I called him out of the blue. He apologized for not knowing all the answers to my questions. He said:
I’m sorry I cannot give you more details.
And he defended his friend, saying he shouldn't be held responsible for the 1976 plane bombing.
It's a controversial issue. Cuban officials want Posada Carriles prosecuted for the bombing.
Hernan Ricardo, a Venezuelan who worked for Posada Carriles, and one of Ricardo's subordinates, Freddy Lugo, "placed the bombs on the plane before it took off from Barbados," National Security Archive senior analyst Peter Kornbluh testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Nov. 15, 2007.
Kornbluh said Posada Carriles, a CIA-trained demolitions expert, knew about the bombing in advance, and was found in possession of a "terrorist target list - essentially a scouting report on potential sites related to Cuba."
In addition, Ricardo and Lugo called Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, another anti-Castro militant, after the plane went down. The bombers' coded message said:
A bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff and all got killed.
Kornbluh said:
...this is a crime that absolutely deserves both a historical and judicial accounting.
But Herreros said he doesn't believe Posada Carriles is guilty. He said:
It’s a very gray area. I don’t think he was ever connected with such a criminal act as they accuse him.
Along the Malecon's Anti-Castro militants page

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