- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile named in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 persons, could be released from a jail in New Mexico unless federal authorities appeal a pending $350,000 bond or move to place him in immigration detention.

Posada, 79, is a Cuban-born Venezuelan national, anti-Castro militant and former CIA operative wanted in Venezuela to face charges in the airline bombing. He is being held by U.S. authorities after being arrested in May 2005 on charges of illegally entering the United States. Posada is accused of lying on an official application about how he entered the country.

His pending release was set into motion on Monday when U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, rejected a request by U.S. government prosecutors to reconsider her recent decision on Posada’s bond and to hold another hearing to reassess the sufficiency of his bail.

Justice Department lawyers argued that Posada, who escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1977 and again in 1985, could flee the country in an effort to avoid a scheduled May 11 hearing on the immigration case if his bond was not set higher.

Spokesman Dean Boyd said the Justice Department’s motion to stay the release was denied by the judge, as was the motion to reconsider her decision. He said the department was evaluating whether to appeal the decision.

If the judge’s bond ruling stands, Posada can post the $350,000 bail and live with his wife in Miami under 24-hour house confinement, leaving only for doctors’ appointments or to meet with his attorney. Family members and supporters have pledged assets to secure his bond.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro said Judge Cardone was following orders from President Bush when she ordered Posada’s release, ignoring evidence that he carried out terrorist attacks against Cuban property and citizens over the past thirty years.

In an e-mail distributed by the Cuban government, Castro is quoted as saying, “It was President Bush himself who at every possible moment ignored the criminal and terrorist character of the accused.”

Posada, described as “frail” by Judge Cardone, would be subject to electronic monitoring and not be allowed to contact co-defendants or witnesses.

Cubana Flight 455 was a Cubana de Aviacion flight departing from Barbados, via Trinidad, to Cuba. On Oct. 6, 1976, two bombs exploded while the aircraft was in the air, killing all 73 persons on board.

Investigators from Cuba, Venezuela and the United States traced the planting of the bombs to two Venezuelan passengers, Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo Lozano, who were employed by Posada at his private detective agency based in Venezuela. They later admitted the crime and were jailed in Venezuela.

Posada escaped from prison with Lugo in 1977 but they were apprehended in Chile, which extradited the men back to Venezuela. Eight years later, Posada escaped again, dressed as a priest.

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