HAVANA – The Cuban official daily, Granma, this week described as “shameful” and an “inconceivable step backward” a U.S. judge’s decision ordering anti-Castro militant and accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to be released on bond.
According to the official mouthpiece of Cuba’s Communist Party, the ruling issued Friday by Judge Kathleen Cardone in favor of Posada – accused by Havana and its close ally Venezuela of committing terrorist acts – “is further confirmation of the double standard of (U.S. President) George W. Bush’s administration in its alleged crusade against terrorism.”
“The judge yielded above all to pressure by representatives of anti-Cuban terrorist groups, such as Alpha 66, that attended this week’s hearing,” the daily said.
Cardone ordered that Posada be released on bond on condition that he remain confined to his home in Miami pending trial on immigration fraud charges.
“We’re happy because Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled in favor of our client,” said Felipe Millan, the Cuban exile’s attorney in El Paso, where the ruling was handed down.
Posada’s lawyers stressed the urgency of obtaining his release from custody, citing the fragile state of his health.
Despite the April 6 ruling, Posada – who has been jailed in New Mexico since earlier this year – may remain in custody and be handed over to immigration officials due to a pending deportation order against him for illegally entering the United States in 2005.
Cardone’s decision set a bond of $350,000 to ensure Posada returns to face trial on May 11. The formal indictment establishes that Posada, 79, tried to obtain U.S. citizenship with false statements in his application and lied under oath to Department of Homeland Security officials when he was detained in Miami in May 2005 and asked about how he illegally entered the country.
A Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela, Posada is accused by Havana and Venezuela of involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner over Barbados, in which all 73 people aboard were killed.
He also stands accused of a role in bombings at Havana hotels in the 1990s – an Italian tourist was killed in one blast – and of mounting a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro at a regional summit in Panama in 2000.
Venezuela has requested the extradition of Posada in connection with the 1976 explosion, but a U.S. federal judge ruled in 2005 that he cannot be sent back to Caracas for trial, citing what he said was the danger that the defendant might be tortured.
Posada, a U.S. Army veteran and one-time CIA operative, escaped from custody in Venezuela in 1985 after having been acquitted of the airliner bombing, but while the acquittal was being challenged. The Cuban plane had taken off from Caracas, hence the Andean nation’s claim of jurisdiction.
In 2004, a Panamanian court sentenced Posada to seven years in prison on lesser charges in connection with the plot against Castro, but the country’s outgoing president, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned him and his accomplices in August of that year. He later resurfaced in Miami, entering illegally through Mexico.