Associated Press
April 14, 2008

Prosecutors Argue Case To Hold Alleged Militant Without Bail

Associated Press

A federal prosecutor on Monday attempted to link Avelino Gonzalez-Claudio to rocket attacks in Puerto Rico while arguing that the alleged Puerto Rican militant should be detained without bail for a 1983 armored car robbery in Connecticut.

Gonzalez, 65, was one of more than a dozen reputed members of the nationalist group Los Macheteros, who authorities say planned and carried out the $7 million heist at the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford. Authorities say the robbery was the largest ever in the United States at the time.

He pleaded not guilty in February to 15 federal charges including robbery and conspiracy. His lawyer and relatives said there's no evidence that he committed any acts of violence or was involved in the robbery.

Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas Smith heard about 90 minutes of arguments before continuing the hearing to Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Kopel said Gonzalez should be held without bail because of his violent past and the risk that he would flee.

Kopel told Smith there was evidence linking Gonzalez to rocket attacks on a courthouse and another building housing the FBI in the mid-1980s. He also said authorities found instructions for making bombs and other weapons literature during a search of Gonzalez's home after his arrest in February.

Kopel said Gonzalez's fingerprints turned up on a rocket casing outside the 1985 attack on a courthouse, and his fingerprints were found inside a car near the attack on the FBI building in 1983.

Gonzalez's lawyer, James Bergenn said the evidence in no way proves that Gonzalez had any role in the rocket attacks. He accused Kopel of making unsubstantiated, inflammatory remarks geared toward the media.

About half-dozen family members flew to Connecticut from Puerto Rico to support Gonzalez, said his son, Oscar. Gonzalez has been held without bond since his arrest.

Oscar Gonzalez called his father a freedom fighter for the independence of Puerto Rico and said the government has no evidence he was involved in the Wells Fargo heist.

Gonzalez' wife, Blanca Figueroa, said the family has been very distressed since he was taken away earlier this year. She said her husband is keeping up a good attitude and expect to beat the charges.

"The arrests have disrupted our lives, but it has brought us even closer," she said through an interpreter.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press.