Washington protects anti-Castro cuban terrorist from Venezuelan authorities

US authorities rejected a request to extradite Luis Posada Carriles to face charges he bombed an airliner killing 73 in the South American country

US authorities rejected last weekend a Venezuelan request to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, a well known anti-Castro cuban terrorist, accused in the South American country of being behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976. By protecting a criminal who confessed having bombed two Havana toursit hotels, the Bush's adminstration has taken the first step of a risky policy that could undermine the so-called “war against terror.”

Anonimous sources quoted by news agencies in Washington said that the US government had rejected the Venezuelan request because it “lacked sufficient basis from a legal point of view.” But the unofficial statement does not explain why the top State Department official for Latin America, Roger Noriega, had said on 19 May that he had not received a formal request from Caracas, when the rejected note was dated on 13 May.

Posada Carriles, 77, has been under arrest in the United States since 17 May on immigration charges after requesting US political asylum. Venezuela has demanded the extradition of Posada Carriles to stand trial for the downing of a Cuban airliner with 73 passengers aboard in 1976.

Born in Cuba, he became a citizen of Venezuela and was at the time of the bombing a member of Venezuela's intelligence service. Facing charges of involvement, he fled prison while awaiting an appeal of his trial. Posada Carriles is also wanted in Cuba for the bombings of two Havana tourist hotels in 2000, in which an Italian businessman died.

While reporting to the Venezuelan services, Posada Carriles developed strong links with the CIA, where he served since the Cuban revolution in 1959. The terrorist, himself, declared to the press that he was asking for asylum in the US as a way to get paid for the services he gave to Washington.

Well advised by his lawyers, Posada Carriles denied any connection with the 1976 bombin, but admitted his participation in the bombings of the Havana's hotels. As Cuba and the US have not extradition deals in force, he is not supposed to be sent there. He could eventually be requested by the Italian goverment, but if sent there, the Berlusconi's regime is not expected to make him spend a tough time in a Rome jail.

Venezuela, meanwhile, will insist with the requests, as considers that US officials had rejected only its request to arrest Posada Carriles, but not the request to extradite. The embassy in Washington released a statement saying it would "submit any documentation necessary to seek the extradition."

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Author`s name Olga Savka