Fla. TV anchor testifies in Cuban militant's trial

AP News
Posted: Mar 08, 2011 5:32 PM
Fla. TV anchor testifies in Cuban militant's trial

A Cuban militant accused of lying to U.S. immigration officials about his past talked during a TV interview shown to jurors Tuesday about a string of bombings in Cuba, saying he felt no remorse and was willing to assume his "historical responsibility" for carrying out attacks.

But Luis Posada Carriles, in the 1998 interview with Miami-based TV anchor Maria Elvira Salazar, did not assume direct responsibility for masterminding the string of bombings in Havana in the previous summer.

Members of the jury saw a backlit, silhouetted Posada tell Salazar how he felt "no remorse whatsoever" and that the only option left to Cubans was to "to fight the violent regime with violence."

Posada, 83, spent decades crisscrossing Latin America to destabilize leftist regimes. He now faces 11 counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and immigration fraud for lying to immigration officials during his citizenship hearings. Officials say among other things, he lied in failing to acknowledge attacks on Cuban hotels and a top Havana tourist restaurant.

Salazar interviewed Posada in the summer of 1998, shortly after the New York Times printed another interview with him, in which he acknowledged responsibility for the bombings. He has since recanted those statements.

In the interview with Salazar, Posada did take responsibility for "any action against the regime of Havana, inside Cuban territory" when asked if he devised, organized and sent people to place the bombs in Cuban hotels and the Havana restaurant.

Salazar testified that her impression was that Posada was "taking responsibility for something he might have or have not done" and that at the time, she thought Posada was "boasting, showing off."

She said she did not believe Posada when he said he would be willing to go back to Cuba, where he is regarded as public enemy No. 1, when at the moment of the interview his face "was half destroyed, his speech was difficult and his demeanor not altogether," due to an attempt on his life in Guatemala in 1990.

Posada told Salazar that he misled the New York Times reporter in order to protect his sources of financing. "I disinformed the New York Times, I told them things that were not true," Posada said in the interview, recorded in Honduras.

A paid CIA agent for at least 12 years in the '60s and '70s, Posada participated indirectly in the Bay of Pigs invasion and later moved to Venezuela, where he served as head of that country's intelligence service. He was arrested for planning the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. A Venezuelan military court dismissed the charges, but Posada escaped from prison before a civilian trial against him was completed.

In the 1980s, he helped Washington provide aid to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He was arrested in Panama in 2000 in connection with a plot to kill Castro during a summit there. He was pardoned in 2004 and turned up in the U.S. the following March.

Posada was held in an immigration detention center in El Paso for about two years but released in 2007 and has been living in Miami.

Cuba and Venezuela would like to try him for the 1976 airliner bombing and the 1997 hotel attacks, but a U.S. immigration judge has previously ruled Posada can't be sent to either country for fear he could be tortured.