A grand Jury in El Paso handed down an 11 point indictment April 10 against Luis Posada, superseding an earlier desultory prosecution for alleged immigration fraud. As a sign Washington may be serious about dealing with Posada as murderer and saboteur, the action buoyed up hopes that Posada might be extradited to Venezuela or tried for murder in the United States.

The indictment overlooks Posada’s central role in the 1976 bomb attack on a Cuban airliner, killing all 73 people aboard. Nor does it cite arrangements he made for hotel bombings in Havana in 1997 and the explosion tearing apart the Copacabana night club that killed Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo.

Posada’s lies to investigators as to how he entered the United States in March 2005 led to a trial in May 2007 on immigration fraud. But Federal Judge Kathleen Cardone, citing prosecutorial incompetence, called that trial off, and Posada went home to Miami. Cuban émigré Posada, later a citizen of Venezuela, had served in the U.S. army and worked for the CIA.

An immigration judge had earlier refused to deport Posada to Venezuela to complete judicial proceedings aborted by his CIA-assisted escape from jail there in 1985. The judge relied upon the testimony claiming Posada would be tortured there. That the single witness was a former Posada business associate and collaborator within Venezuela’s intelligence service was kept from the judge. Had Posada been convicted of immigration fraud, he would only have been deported. Bush administration pleas failed in recruiting a country willing to accept him.

During immigration interviews in 2005 and 2006 Posada falsely denied knowing or assisting Raul Cruz Leon, the El Salvador hit man convicted in Cuba of carrying out the Havana bomb attacks almost 12 years ago. Allegations of perjury and obstruction of U.S. investigation of international terrorism form the bases for new criminal charges against him.

Posada will enter a plea in El Paso on April 17. Jury selection for a new trial begins on Aug. 10. Free on $350,000 bail until then, he has been ordered to steer clear of violence-prone Miami colleagues who may serve as trial witnesses.

The indictment is unrelated to an ongoing New Jersey grand jury investigation into allegations that Cuban-Americans there funded Posada in El Salvador as he organized attacks on Havana. Speaking at a telephone news conference, Jose Pertierra, Venezuela’s attorney in Washington, saw that investigation as possibly leading to his future prosecution for murder. (See yahoo.group/CubaNews/message/99979)

Jose Pertierra commended the Obama administration for a “wonderful first step” in linking Posada to international terrorism. He added, however, “you don’t simply say that he lied … nYou have to follow up [which] means that they have to indict Posada Carriles for the murder of Fabio di Celmo.”

Livio di Celmo spoke to reporters, emphasizing the power of available evidence demonstrating Posada’s responsibility for his brother’s murder. He referred to a 1999 UN report on the Havana bombings and declassified U.S. documents made available by the National Security Archives of George Washington University.

A New Orleans federal appeals court issued a ruling last year, backed by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, that prosecution on immigration fraud should resume. For whatever reason, however, prosecutors upped the ante.

“A criminal prosecution of Posada is severely hobbled,” Ann Louise Bardach wrote in the Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2006. That investigative reporter disclosed that the Miami FBI office in 2003 “made the startling decision to close its case on Posada.” It discarded evidence. FBI head at the time there was Hector Pesquera, who earlier had directed the FBI investigation of the Cuban Five.

Livio di Celma had a tip: “The five Cubans that are in jail in the United States for having infiltrated these terrorist organizations … are the ones that could testify very well about the terrorist acts that have been going on against Cuba since 1959.”

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