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Venezuela wants florida extradition 1976 cuban terrorist { May 4 2005 }

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Posted on Wed, May. 04, 2005

Nation may seek militant's extradition from the U.S.

A Venezuelan court ruling opens the door for that country to formally ask the United States to extradite a Cuban militant accused of bombing an airliner in 1976.

CARACAS - (AP) -- Venezuela's Supreme Court approved a petition from a local court that is seeking to extradite a Cuban militant accused of bombing an airliner who asked for asylum from the U.S. government last month, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

With the Supreme Court's approval, Venezuela's government can formally ask the U.S. government for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted in Venezuela for a 1976 Cuban airliner bombing that killed 73 people.

Eduardo Soto, Posada's Coral Gables immigration attorney, said a legal strategy to defend his client against a Venezuelan extradition request was being drawn up.

Key arguments against extradition, he said, include: a 15-year statute of limitations in the extradition treaty has expired; Venezuela lacks jurisdiction because the plane exploded off Barbados; Posada was acquitted twice of charges in Venezuela; and Venezuela may extradite him to Cuba, where he would face a firing squad.

In Washington, a top State Department official suggested that Posada does not deserve asylum in the United States -- the first time a senior American official has publicly spoken against granting protection to the exile militant.

The United States ''has no interest in giving quarter to someone who has committed criminal acts,'' said Roger Noriega, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs. ``We are a country that respects the rule of law.''

Noriega also voiced doubts Posada is here.

''I don't even know that he is in the United States,'' said Noriega.

But Soto said Tuesday night that he has seen his client in South Florida. He told a news conference last month Posada sneaked into the United States in March through the Mexican border.

Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985. He had been tried and acquitted twice before.

''Posada Carriles has been the author or accomplice of homicide and treason, so he must be extradited and judged by the courts of Venezuela,'' said the Supreme Court statement.

The anti-Castro militant claims he worked several years for the CIA and is seeking asylum in the United States because he says that he will likely face execution in Cuba.

Posada Carriles was arrested in Panama in 2001 and accused of plotting to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro during a summit in Panama. He was pardoned last year.

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