Saturday, January 14, 2012

Panama Ratifies Sentence Against Posada

I first heard this on Radio Mambi during today's noon news program. According to Spanish news agency EFE, the Second Appellate Court in Panama has ratified sentences imposed against Luis Posada Carriles and five other accomplices from 2004. The sentences stem from charges of "threatening public security and falsifying documents" after their arrest in Panama in 2000. This recent ruling paves the way to formally extradite Luis Posada Carriles to Panama. Armando Perez-Roura read the report on Radio Mambi and indicated forthcoming updates on mobilizing the community against the ruling.

Luis Posada was arrested in Panama in 2000 for what looked like another attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. Posada and five others were found guilty on several charges. In April 2004, Posada was sentenced to eight years in prison for "threatening public security and falsifying documents." But, in August 2004, Posada was pardoned (along with his accomplices) by then-President Mireya Moscoso as she left office. The government of Cuba responded by cutting diplomatic ties with Panama.

The president that followed, Martin Torrijos, sought improved relations with Cuba (he traveled to Havana in 2005 to re-establish diplomatic ties) and his administration also attempted to rectify what it thought were corrupt practices during the Moscoso administration (recent Wikileaks cables described several complaints of bribery to the U.S. embassy).

In 2008, the pardons by Mireya Moscoso were targeted. Those who collaborated with pardoning Luis Posada Carriles were charged for abusing their authority, and in July 2008 Panama's Supreme Court overturned 182 pardons* granted by Moscoso, including Posada's.

This confirmation of Posada's sentence from 2004 opens the door for his possible extradition to Panama. Currently, Venezuela also has an extradition order for Posada related to his alleged involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airplane, and other investigations related to torture as a Venezuelan intelligence officer. If granted, Panama would become the second country with an extradition order for Posada related to an act of terrorism.

According to the EFE report, Julio Berrios was identified as representing the plaintiffs in this case that confirmed Posada's sentence, and Rogelio Cruz was Posada's lawyer. (In case you didn't know, Berrios is one of Manuel Noriega's lawyers in Panama after Noriega's recent extradition from France.) And, according to Prensa Latina, Berrios will be joined by a grassroots organization called ULIP (Union de Lucha Integral del Pueblo) to file for an extradition order.

*[Wikileaks: Details of Pardon Revocation for Posada and 181 Others]

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