Anti-Castro Cuban militant refuses to answer questions at deportation hearing |

Anti-Castro Cuban militant refuses to answer questions at deportation hearing

EL PASO, Texas – An anti-Castro militant initially refused to answer questions from U.S. immigration attorneys Tuesday at his deportation hearing, but later acknowledged using several aliases and passports with different names.Luis Posada Carriles, 77, is wanted in several countries for the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner. He requested asylum in the United States after his May arrest in Miami on charges that he sneaked into the country illegally through Mexico.His deportation hearing also will consider whether the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was an act of U.S. terrorism.When first asked about a series of aliases, including “Bambi,” Posada invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. After consulting with attorneys, Posada acknowledged using aliases and passports with various names as he traveled among Latin American countries and the United States.Government attorneys presented a copy of a passport with the name Franco Rodriguez Mena that they said was used to enter the United States in April 2000 at Miami. After initially refusing to identify the photograph in the passport, Posada said it was possible he used the passport, although he said he could not specifically remember that one.Questioned by his attorneys, Posada said he was shot several times in Guatemala in 1990 in what he said was an attempt on his life by the Cuban government.Earlier Tuesday, a former Venezuelan government official testified that Posada would be tortured if he were turned over to that country.Joaquin F. Chaffardet Ramos, testifying on behalf of Posada before an immigration judge, said the Venezuelan government has denounced Posada as a terrorist, and he almost certainly “would be sent immediately” to Cuba.Lead government attorney Gina Garrett-Jackson has told the judge the government is undecided on opposing Posada’s deportation to Venezuela.The government of Venezuela has requested that Posada be sent back to that country to stand trial on charges accusing him of plotting the bombing.Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez suggested Tuesday that his country has international opinion on its side.”The dominant opinion is that Posada Carriles should be extradited to Venezuela, just as we have been asking,” Rodriguez said in a statement.Chaffardet said that because of his age, Posada could be sentenced to no more than four years in prison under Venezuelan law. But Chaffardet said the government would torture Posada, and probably would strip Posada of his citizenship, opening the door for his deportation to Cuba.Chaffardet said he has known Posada since the late 1960s and that they worked together as security officials.Posada, who is Cuban, has been held in an El Paso detention center since his arrest. He has denied any involvement in the bombing.A recently declassified CIA document quotes an unnamed former Venezuelan official saying that shortly before the bombing Posada was heard to say that he and others “are going to hit a Cuban airplane.”CIA documents also show the spy agency trained Posada in 1961 to participate in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Immigration Judge William L. Abbott last month asked lawyers in the case to prepare briefs on whether the invasion was a terrorist act.The judge said he would also consider whether Posada had ever provided material support for acts of terror as part of the case.Posada’s lawyers have said he did not participate in the failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro’s communist government.Posada was acquitted by a Venezuelan military court but that decision was later thrown out when it was decided that he should be tried in a civilian court. He escaped from a Venezuelan jail in 1985 before the trial had been completed.Vail – Colorado

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