Cuba Politics

Fugitive hijacker Luis Pena Soltren arrested in NYC

Posted October 11, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

Associated Press

A man wanted since 1968 in the hijacking of Pan American Flight 281 to Cuba has been apprehended.

Federal authorities took longtime fugitive Luis Pena Soltren, who had been living in Cuba, into custody on Sunday for his role in the Nov. 24, 1968, hijacking. The flight had originated in New York and was headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, when it was diverted.

Soltren was apprehended at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the same airport where authorities say he and accomplices boarded a Pan American flight and hijacked it armed with guns and knives.

Federal prosecutors say that Soltren “terrorized dozens of passengers” during the hijacking.

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On October 12, 2009, publisher wrote:

From the BBC

Luis Armando Pena Soltren, now 66, was arrested on arrival at New York’s John F Kennedy Airport from Cuba, where he has lived for the last 41 years.

Mr Soltren is accused of hijacking a Pan Am flight bound for Puerto Rico.

He arranged his return with US authorities because he wanted to see family, the New York Times reported.

That includes his wife, who lives in either Puerto Rico or Florida, the newspaper reported.

Mr Soltren is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

The hijack took place on 24 November 1968, one of many instances of US planes being forcibly diverted to Cuba from the US in the 1960s - by leftists wanting to visit Cuba, fugitives seeking asylum, or by those seeking ransom payments.

Mr Soltren’s two accomplices, Jose Rafael Rios Cruz and Miguel Castro, were sentenced to jail terms of 15 and 12 years respectively after they were arrested on return to the US in the 1970s.

Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said in a statement: “As the 1968 charges allege, [Soltren] terrorized dozens of passengers when he and his cohorts wielded pistols and knives to hijack Pan American flight 281.”

The three men forced their way into the flight cabin using weapons and ammunition that had been concealed in a bag of nappies, court papers said.