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US jury acquits anti-Castro militant on perjury charges

A federal jury on Friday acquitted anti-Castro Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of charges of lying to federal immigration officials. He was indicted [Miami Herald report] before the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] on two counts of perjury and nine counts of making false statements regarding his involvement in the bombing of tourist attractions in Havana [WP report] in 1997 and the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner [ASN backgrounder]. US District Judge Kathleen Cardone suspended the trial several times [Miami Herald report] following mistrial motions filed by Posada's attorney, who accused a government witness of lying on the stand and alleged that the prosecution delayed delivery of important documents. The trial, which lasted 13 weeks and included testimony from 33 witnesses, ended after jurors deliberated for just three hours. Prosecuting attorneys will attempt to have Carriles extradited [BBC report] to Venezuela for further proceedings.

Venezuela and Cuba have sought Posada's extradition under the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation [texts] on charges related to the bombings. In April 2009, Venezuela renewed its extradition request hoping the Obama administration would be more open to extradition [JURIST reports] following an indictment [court materials; WSJ report] ordering Posada to stand trial in Texas. Citing the UN Convention Against Torture [text], the US has refused to extradite Posada in the past [JURIST report], saying that he cannot be sent to either Venezuela or Cuba because he is likely to be tortured if extradited to either country. Cuba countered that claim during a November 2008 UN Security Council meeting [press release], pointing to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] and arguing that while the likelihood of torture in Cuba is speculative, the likelihood of torture in the US is not.

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