Friday, February 12, 2010

Questions unanswered in Posada Carriles case

Luis Posada Carriles, left, with lawyer Arturo V. Hernandez. Photo credit: EFE

Below are questions asked, but not always answered, in the Luis Posada Carriles case.
I realize that some questions must go unanswered for legal and other reasons. The public does not have the right to know everything.
That said, dozens of documents have been sealed in the Posada Carriles case. The public may never know what has gone on behind the scenes, what's been said and what information has been disclosed.
Certainly, some secrecy is justified. But is all it justified?
Before I get to the unanswered questions, here is some background:

On Jan. 11, the defense filed a document notifying the court that Posada Carriles would take a private charter jet from South Florida to El Paso for his Feb. 5 court appearance. The document said Posada Carriles planned to ride a Hawker 700, registration number 49RJ, and that a Posada Carriles supporter named Alberto Herreros was "donating the costs and fees associated with this travel."

A man named Alberto Pardo Herreros once ran a company linked to drug trafficking and covert aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, a 1988 document shows. On Jan. 20, Canadian journalist Jean-Guy Allard reported that the former Contra supporter and the Posadas supporter are the same man. After Allard's report was published, Hernandez said Posada Carriles' plans to ride the Hawker 700 fell through because the jet was undergoing maintenance.

I have been trying to learn more about the aborted plane trip, among other things. Below are some of the sources I've consulted, the questions I've asked and the answers I've received.

I'll update this post as I learn more. I'll add new questions in the weeks to come and if there's something you'd like me to ask, please let me know.
  • Source: Don Whittington, owner of World Jet Inc. Linked to marijuana smuggling ring in the 1980s. Pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and received an 18-month prison sentence.
  • Role: Listed in Federal Aviation Administration records as the owner of a Hawker 700 with registration number 49RJ. In a phone interview, Whittington denied having anything to do with the planned Posada Carriles flight. He said it could be some kind of registration number mix-up or old information. I sent him the Jan. 11 court document showing the 49RJ reference.
  • Question: Why is the Hawker 700 listed in court documents? If it's a mix-up, what happened?
  • Date of question, sent to Whittington via e-mail: Feb. 12
  • Answer: No response.
Don Whittington
  • Source: Timothy J. Reardon , III
    U.S. Department of Justice
    Counterterrorism Section, Nat'l Security Division
  • Role: Lead prosecutor in the Posada Carriles case
  • Question: How did Posada Carriles travel from Florida to El Paso for his Feb. 5 court appearance? Did he travel by plane?
  • Date of question, sent to Reardon via e-mail: Feb. 7
  • Public interest: Doesn't the public have the right to know more about the travel plans of someone accused of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a passenger airliner?
  • Answer: No response.
Department of Justice seal. Reardon photo unavailable.
  • Source: Arturo V. Hernandez
  • Role: Lead defense attorney for Posada Carriles
  • Question, sent via e-mail Jan. 25: FAA records don't show an Alberto Herreros as the owner of the Hawker 700 listed in the Jan. 11 defense document. Do you know why that is?
  • Answer: No response.
More questions for Hernandez:
  • Posada Carriles' supporters plan a fundraiser on Feb. 18 in Miami to bring in money to help pay his legal expenses, according to CubaDebate, citing Radio Mambi as its source.
  • Questions, sent to Hernandez via e-mail Feb. 12:
  • How can one make a donation toward Posada Carriles' legal expenses?
  • Have supporters set up a fund, with a corresponding bank account number?
  • How much does Posada Carriles need for his legal expenses?
  • Does a lack of money hurt lawyers' ability to defend Posada Carriles?
  • Are there things defense lawyers would like to do, but can't because they don't have enough money?
  • Can you provide any details on the Feb. 18 fundraiser?
  • Answer: No response.
Arturo V. Hernandez. Source of photo is here.

Corporate jet rates are generally $2,500 to $5,000 per hour, according to Altitude Aviation. A Hawker 700, with a cruising speed of 390 miles per hour, can travel from Miami to El Paso in four hours and 13 minutes. That means the trip, one way, could cost from $10,000 to $20,000.

Who's paying the bill?

Along the Malecon's Anti-Castro militants page

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