BY ALFONSO CHARDY AND JAY WEAVER | Miami Herald
U.S. authorities signaled Wednesday they will not detain Luis Posada Carriles after a federal judge in El Paso dismissed immigration fraud charges against the Cuban exile militant. He’s no longer under 24-hour house arrest.
As Posada prepared to return to Miami a free man, the Justice Department remained undecided about whether to appeal Tuesday’s stunning dismissal of the criminal case.
‘‘We’re disappointed with the ruling, and we’re evaluating our options,’’ said Justice spokesman Dean Boyd.
But the highlight of the case Wednesday was the decision by immigration officials not to detain Posada in El Paso, meaning that for now Posada can return to his wife’s West Kendall apartment—free from house arrest, as was required under his pre-trial bond.
‘‘He should be back in Miami by this weekend,’’ said his attorney, Arturo Hernandez, who did not want to disclose details of his client’s return.
Posada, 79, sneaked into the United States in March 2005, which became a critical issue in the indictment accusing him of lying about how he entered the country. Now the former CIA operative is completely out in the open—neither in hiding, behind bars or under house arrest.
He’s subject to the control of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but the order of supervised release doesn’t require detention—only reporting to ICE as soon as he returns to Miami.
‘‘Based on a previously issued order of supervision, Posada must report in person to the ICE Miami deportation office upon his return to Miami,’’ said Barbara Gonzalez, an agency spokeswoman in Miami. ``Any failure by Posada to comply with the supervision order may subject him to fines, more restrictive release conditions, detention or criminal prosecution.’‘
The new circumstances pleased Posada’s Coral Gables immigration attorney, Eduardo Soto.
‘‘It’s very clear they are not interested in detaining him,’’ he said, expressing relief since detention was one of the immigration agency’s options.
Posada has a final order of deportation, and the law allows immigration authorities to detain foreign nationals with such orders. However, the Supreme Court has prohibited indefinite detention of foreign nationals who cannot be deported, like Posada, but has exempted people deemed to be in ``special circumstances.’‘
An immigration judge ruled the Cuban-born Posada cannot be deported to Cuba or Venezuela, where he’s a naturalized citizen, because he could face torture for his alleged anti-Castro violence.
Cuba wants to try Posada for a series of bombings at island tourist sites in 1997 that killed an Italian.
The Cuban government newspaper Granma said the U.S. judge’s dismissal of the immigration fraud charges meant that ``there will be no trial against the terrorist . . . and the predicted impunity is thus consummated.’‘
Venezuela promised to reinvigorate its push for a stalled extradition request for Posada to try him in Caracas for his alleged role in the 1976 bomb attack on a Cuban jetliner that killed 73. Jose Pertierra, a Venezuelan embassy attorney, says the United States has stonewalled Venezuela’s extradition request for months.
The immigration fraud case against Posada collapsed when the federal judge in Texas found Posada’s interview to apply for U.S. citizenship was botched by an interpreter.
In turn, that undercut the fraud indictment accusing him of lying about how he sneaked into the country, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled.
Miami Herald staff writers Pablo Bachelet in Washington and Oscar Corral contributed to this report.