Puerto Rico orders FBI to turn over evidence in fatal shooting of militant nationalist
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Local authorities have ordered the FBI to turn over weapons and other items to an investigation into the death of a fugitive Puerto Rican independence activist, officials said Wednesday.The U.S. territory’s Justice Department issued a subpoena to the FBI as it decides whether anyone in the law enforcement agency committed a crime in the fatal shooting of Filoberto Ojeda Rios, who was sought for a 1983 robbery in Connecticut.FBI officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.The subpoena, which was issued Tuesday, directs the FBI to deliver information, documents and objects connected to the Sept. 23 raid on a farmhouse in western Puerto Rico where the 72-year-old Ojeda Rios lived in hiding with his wife.”I am confident that we can count on your collaboration on this matter,” Puerto Rico Attorney General Roberto Sanchez Ramos wrote to Luis Fraticelli, head of the FBI in Puerto Rico, in a letter accompanying the subpoena.The M-4 assault rifle used by an FBI agent to shoot Ojeda Rios has already been turned over to local authorities for forensics testing, Justice Department spokeswoman Claribel Morales said.The death of Ojeda Rios has provoked outrage in Puerto Rico, where he was seen as a heroic figure to some in the movement for independence.Critics have faulted the FBI’s handling of the operation, especially for waiting nearly 24 hours to enter the farmhouse after the fugitive had been wounded. An autopsy showed Ojeda Rios, who was shot once in the shoulder, might have survived if he had received immediate medical attention.In addition, the fugitive’s wife has said FBI agents were the first to open fire – an allegation the law enforcement agency has denied. The FBI has said the U.S. Office of the Inspector General will conduct its own investigation of the incident.Ojeda Rios was the head of the nationalist Macheteros, or Cane Cutters, whose most notorious act was the $7.2 million Wells Fargo robbery in West Hartford, Conn. The robbery is considered an act of domestic terrorism because the money was used to finance the Macheteros’ activities.Vail, Colorado
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