Anti-Castro militant pardon overturned
By JUAN ZAMORANO | AP
Panama’s Supreme Court overturned a presidential pardon of four Cuban emigres accused of plotting to kill Fidel Castro, including former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, officials said Tuesday.
The court ruled late Monday that 180 pardons granted in 2004 by outgoing President Mireya Moscoso — including of the four Cubans — were unconstitutional, leaving open the possibility that many of those formerly cleared could return to jail.
The attorney in Panama for Posada, Rogelio Cruz, said he believes Panama may request his client’s extradition from the U.S., where he is being held in jail.
“Given the good relations between President (Martin) Torrijos and the Cuban government, I have no doubt that Panama will ask for the four anti-Castro militants to be extradited from the U.S.,” Cruz said.
Posada was taken into custody after he illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico in 2005, according to U.S. prosecutors.
Cruz said if the case is revived, the courts would also have to take up an appeal filed on behalf of Posada four years ago.
Among the 180 people pardon by Moscoso before she left office in 2004 were 87 journalists who had faced charges of defamation or libel dating as far back as 1990.
Panama’s Foreign Ministry would not comment on whether it planned to request Posada’s extradition.
When asked about a possible extradition by RPC radio station, Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro said “we will fulfill our duty under the Constitution and the law.”
Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez praised the ruling as a “vindication of the constitution,” and said her office would study how the decision affects each case that was pardoned.
Castro denounced a plot to kill him during an Ibero-American summit that was held in Panama’s capital in November 2000. Panamanian authorities later found explosives hidden outside Panama City and said there was evidence linking them to Posada and the others.
Posada — a Cuban-born former CIA operative and naturalized Venezuelan citizen — is also wanted by Cuba and Venezuela on charges that he plotted the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner while in Caracas. Posada has denied wrongdoing in the jetliner bombing, which killed 73 people.
Cuba cut ties with Panama after Posada and the other Cubans were pardoned.