EL PASO, Texas – Anti-Castro activist Luis Posada Carriles will have a new opportunity April 2 to defend before a U.S. judge his petition to be released on bail, a request that was earlier denied.
Posada has been held by U.S. authorities for more than a year for entering the country illegally.
Felipe Millan, Posada’s defense attorney, said that now is the proper time to defend his client’s bail request.
Posada was transferred in January 2007 from the El Paso immigration detention center, where he had been held as a result of his illegal entry into the United States in March 2005, to the jail in Otero County, New Mexico, after he was accused of fraud.
He stands accused by the Venezuelan government of being the mastermind behind the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviación jet killing 73 people. He is also linked with a series of attacks on hotels in Cuba in which an Italian tourist died.
Posada was imprisoned in Panama after being found with an arsenal of weapons supposedly intended for use in a plot to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro at a summit there in 2000.
On Feb. 21, U.S. federal Judge Philip Martínez, who is in charge of examining Posada’s habeas corpus petition, ruled that he could not ask for his release.
Posada’s lawyer has since requested a hearing at the appeals court on the earlier refusal to grant bail. According to court documents, the judge denied the request for release on bail because Posada, 79, is a foreigner and he presents a high flight risk.
In addition, the documents say that there are no guarantees that, once free on bond, Posada will not be a danger to the public and there is nothing to guarantee that the accused will return to court to face charges. Millan, meanwhile, says that his client is in fragile health and does not present a risk of any kind to anyone.
He also argued that the anti-Castro militant has been considered a model prisoner in all the detention facilities where he has been held since his arrest.
Millan added that Posada has a support network of more than 300 people, most of them in Florida, who have known him for many years and any one of those people, he said, would be ready to contribute money to pay any bail amount set by the judge.
The defense attorney also said that his client has not committed any violent act against the United States and that the crimes of which he is accused in South America do not imply that he would be any danger to the local community.
Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez have criticized the United States for not extraditing Posada to Venezuela to face trial for terrorism, arguing that the failure to do so contradicts the U.S.’ global “War on Terrorism.”
Posada was held for a year in the El Paso detention center because of his illegal entry into the United States in March 2005, and the Department of Homeland Security presented 10 charges against him for lying on the request he made to become a U.S. citizen and later in an interview with immigration officials.
According to the information in the possession of the court, during the 1970s he was a CIA agent and he said he illegally entered the United States by land over the border at Brownsville, Texas, but did not use the passports of any other countries to do so.
However, the U.S. government says that Posada entered the United States by sea on board the vessel La Santrina, which picked him up in Mexico’s Islas Mujeres and brought him to Miami, where he was arrested.
Prosecutors add that the accused, who was born in Cuba but became a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, also holds a Guatemalan passport.
The Department of Homeland Security filed criminal charges against Posada, whose deportation order was indefinitely suspended after he tried to get the court to order his release.
Posada, whose trial will begin on May 10 with jury selection, faces up to 10 years in prison if he is found guilty, and if he is released from jail on bail he would once again become the responsibility of – and be taken into custody by – U.S. immigration authorities.
“Then, we would once against start the habeas corpus process,”Millan said.