, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 9, 2011

Jury wastes little time acquitting Cuban militant


EL PASO, Texas —

In the 1980s, Posada helped the U.S. funnel support to Nicaraguan Contra rebels, and in 2000, was arrested in Panama amid a plot to kill Castro during a summit there. He was pardoned in 2004.

Posada sneaked into the U.S. the following March and underwent naturalization hearings in El Paso. He was placed in immigration detention and accused of lying while under oath during those proceedings about how he reached U.S. soil, facing immigration fraud and perjury charges when his first trial opened in El Paso in 2007.

But U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone freed Posada and threw that case out, chastising the government for using Posada's hearing as a pretext to build a criminal case against him.

Her decision was overturned on appeal, however, and the case returned to Cardone's court.

Prosecutors added four additional charges, three of them obstruction, alleging that Posada further lied during the immigration hearings about masterminding of a wave of 1997 bombings at Cuban tourist sites that killed an Italian tourist and wounded about a dozen other people.

During a 1998 interview with The New York Times, Posada was quoted as saying he planned the bombings and clarified that they were meant to hurt tourism in Cuba, but not kill anyone.

His new trial opened before Cardone on Jan. 10 and saw prosecutors call a long line of witnesses, including Ann Louise Bardach, who interviewed Posada for the Times. Compelled to testify by subpoena, she said Posada granted the interview because he was angry that the bombings hadn't garnered much attention from the U.S. press.

Bardach said the jury heard only about two of her six hours of taped interviews with Posada — and even those were heavily edited by court officials.

"It doesn't seem quite right to link our tapes to the verdict," she said.

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