Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Terrorist's Veil of Innocence (Part 1)

One false notion that is constantly heard and repeated is that Luis Posada Carriles is innocent because he has been "twice acquitted" for his crimes. These so-called "acquittals" relate to charges against Carriles, in which he was a primary suspect, for the bombing of a civilian aircraft in 1976.

Currently, Luis Posada Carriles is being held in a US federal prison for charges of fraud connected to his illegal entrance and false immigrant application into the US. And, just this morning in Miami, cries of injustice continue to be called out on the radio. Callers to Radio Mambi, one of Carriles' main supporters for his release, ask Armando Perez-Roura on his morning show: where's justice for this freedom fighter who was already aquitted for his crimes? And, there's a silence. It's a silence that belongs to those baffled with simple logic, based on a false premise. One of the hosts on Radio Mambi's morning show, Enrique Encinosa, responds that there is a lot international pressure in the case of Carriles, but mainly that "para los communistas no importa"[*](it doesn't matter to the Communists) if Carriles has been aquitted.

The truth is that Luis Posada Carriles has NOT been aquitted. Yet, it seems that THIS doesn't matter to Enrique Encinosa, and others who believe that Carriles is an innocent man.

The best clarification of Carriles' false "veil of innocence" has come from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. They write that:

"Posada was first tried before a military tribunal, which acquitted him of the crime of treason. However, a higher military court found that the lower one lacked jurisdiction and annulled the entire case, which was then handed off to the civil courts. They would have prima facie jurisdiction over Posada, as he was at the time a citizen of Venezuela. Initially, the prosecutors in the civil case declined to try him; their replacements, however, saw fit to bring homicide charges against Posada, and it was during this period that he escaped from prison.

"To Posada’s potential benefit, many have interpreted this lack of a verdict to mean that two Venezuelan courts have found him innocent of terrorism. However, neither of the legal actions against him carried any precedential effect. The military tribunal annulment effectively wiped the slate clean, resetting the entire judicial process and leaving all parties situated as if no legal action had ever occurred.

"In the final analysis, Posada was in the process of facing prosecution for a major crime at the time when he escaped from Venezuela."

This description is supported by the official statements of the Venezuelan Embassy in the US. They say:

"The history of the litigation in Venezuela that shows that after litigation in the military tribunals, the case was annulled on March 24, 1983, because it was conducted in the wrong forum. Subsequently, it was sent to the penal courts where, prior to a verdict by the court, Posada escaped from prison in San Juan de los Morros in Guárico state on August 18, 1985... The statutory period for trying the case has not lapsed, because according to Article 110 of the Penal Code, the statute of limitation is tolled for a fugitive until a new legal action is taken."

This is why the Venezuelan government continues to demand for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles from the US, who together have extradition obligations to fulfill. This demand for extradition was also supported by virtually all the countries in Latin America at the 2005 Ibero-American Summit where they agreed on such a resolution.

The case of Luis Posada Carriles is pretty clear in Latin America: he's a terrorist that should be extradited and tried for his charges in Venezuela. But, here in Miami, its a totally different story.

[*]Enrique Encinosa - Radio Mambi: "En Caliente" Morning Show (February 1, 2007)

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