BBC News
September 12, 2006

Cuban bomb suspect to be released

A US court has ruled that a Cuban wanted on terrorism charges by Cuba and Venezuela should be set free from a Texas immigration detention centre.
Ex-CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles was held for crossing illegally from Mexico after serving time in Panama for plotting to kill Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Mr Posada Carriles faces deportation, but it cannot be to Cuba or Venezuela.

Venezuela, which says he was behind a 1976 plane bombing that killed 73 people, condemned the latest ruling.

A Venezuelan government spokesman, Eric Wingerter, said the fact the ruling came on the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks would be particularly insulting to the families of those who died in the bombing of the Cuban airliner.

'Right track'

A US magistrate in El Paso, Texas, ruled that Mr Posada Carriles should be set free from the city's immigration detention centre.

The judge noted that the US Supreme Court had ruled that those held on immigration violations could not be held indefinitely.

 As far as we're concerned, we're on the right track
Felipe Millan
Lawyer for Mr Posada Carriles

He also said no third country had been found willing to accept Mr Posada Carriles' deportation. The earlier ruling had said he could face torture in Cuba or Venezuela.

Mr Posada Carriles' lawyer, Felipe Millan, said his client could be free within 30 days if a federal district judge upheld the ruling.

He added that Mr Posada Carriles, 78, would join his family in Miami until the deportation was worked out.

Prison escape

Both Venezuela and Cuba have accused the US government of harbouring a man they consider to be a known terrorist.

Mr Wingerter said: "If we are serious about fighting terrorism then we need to prosecute all terrorists, not just those opposed to US foreign policy."

The US Department of Justice said it was reviewing the court decision.

The entire Cuban fencing team was among those who died when the Cuban jetliner flying from Caracas was bombed.

Mr Posada Carriles was twice acquitted by courts in Venezuela of plotting to bomb the plane.

He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting a trial on appeal.

Mr Posada Carriles was convicted in Panama of trying to bomb Cuban leader Fidel Castro at a summit in the country in 2002.

Mr Posada Carriles has said Mr Castro tried to have him killed in 1990 because of his previous work for Venezuela as a security official.