Caracas, Venezuela, August 30, 2005—A Texas court said that if the asylum request of Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban-Venezuelan, is rejected, he could be deported to Venezuela, where he is wanted in connection with the bombing of a 1976 airplane that killed 73 persons. The U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security did not object to the judge’s decision.
Judge William Lee Abbot has not made a decision about whether Posada would be deported, but only stated that if he were deported for having entered the country illegally, he would be sent to Venezuela, which has been seeking his extradition ever since he first showed up in Miami several months ago. According to the Miami Herald, even if the judge orders Posada to be deported, the judge could still decide to suspend the deportation order on the grounds that Posada would be either tortured in Venezuela or sent to Cuba.
While the chief counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, Gina Garrett-Jackson, did not object to the judge’s announcement, she did say her department “reserved the right” to do so at a later point, noting that the department was consulting with the Department of Justice and that of State.
Posada’s lawyer declined to indicate what country he would like to be deported to should he lose his asylum bid. “We respectfully decline” to name a country, said Posada’s attorney Matthew Archambeault.
Gina Garrett-Jackson noted that Posada is not eligible for asylum because U.S. immigration law does not permit asylum for terrorism suspects and those accused of non-political crimes. Posada is wanted by Venezuela for the airplane bombing and was convicted in Panama for planning an assassination attempt on Cuba’s Fidel Castro. In Venezuela, Posada’s first trial was dismissed for having taken place in the wrong venue—a military court instead of a civilian one—and his second never went to trial before he escaped from prison in 1985. In Panama, Posada was given a pardon in 2000, after which he disappeared for several years.
On the second day of Posada’s deportation hearing, he initially refused to answer questions, invoking the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, but later admitted that he had several different aliases and passports.
Posada’s hearing will also consider if the U.S.-sponsored 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba was an act of terrorism because Posada is said to have participated in this action.
Joaquin F. Chaffardet Ramos, a former Venezuelan government official who worked with Posada as an intelligence officer for Venezuela’s DISIP in the 1960’s, testified on Posada’s behalf, saying that Posada would almost definitely be tortured and sent to Cuba if the U.S. were to deport him to Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government, however, has repeated denied that it would send Posada to Cuba and has said that he would receive a fair trial in Venezuela. Also, Cuba’s President Castro has said that Cuba is not seeking Posada’s extradition and favors having Posada be tried in Venezuela.
Posada denies involvement in the 1976 bombing of the Cuban airliner that caused the deaths of 73 persons. A recently declassified CIA document, however, shows that shortly before the bombing Posada is said to have boasted of planning the bombing of the plane that a little later went down.