Judge hints Posada will stay in U.S.
BY OSCAR CORRAL | Miami Herald
An immigration judge in El Paso hinted strongly Monday that Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles would be allowed to stay in detention in the United States, said Matthew Archambeault, a lawyer for Posada.
On the last day of Posada’s immigration trial, lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security wrapped up their case with a short closing statement, Archambeault said. They never called any witnesses to testify against Posada.
‘‘We’re 99.9 percent sure the judge is going to grant deferral,’’ Archambeault said. “He is very satisfied with our case.’‘
The government could have made a much stronger case against Posada, calling witnesses to argue that he should be deported to Venezuela, where he holds citizenship. But government lawyers decided instead to close with a short statement and chose not to call witnesses to rebutt the testimony of Joaquin Chaffardet, a Venezuelan lawyer and Posada ally who argued in court that Posada would likely be tortured if he were sent to Venezuela.
Posada, who was born in Cuba, gained Venezuelan citizenship in the early 1970s when he was a top officer in the Venezuelan state police, DISIP. Venezuela is asking for his extradition to try him on charges of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner.
Posada’s lawyers argue that his deportation should be stopped under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) act, which prohibits the United States government from deporting people to countries where they are likely to be tortured.
The Venezuelan government issued a statement Monday ripping the Bush administration for harboring “this self-confessed terrorist.’‘
‘‘Prosecution is neither persecution nor torture,’’ said the statement, issued by the Venezuelan embassy in Washington. “There is no evidence that the government of Venezuela would torture Posada. To grant CAT relief to Posada Carriles is to twist an international treaty meant to protect innocent victims of torture into an instrument with which to shelter a terrorist.’‘
Immigration Judge William Abbott told the court Monday morning that he would issue a written decision in the next two weeks that will determine whether Posada stays or goes.
‘‘It’s clear that from a lack of presentation of the government’s case on this issue, that they feel that he will be tortured,’’ Archambeault said. “But for political reasons, they don’t want to come right out and say that they will go for deferral. They will leave it up to the judge to decide.’’