Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fw: Venezuela Condemns U.S. Ruling

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Venezuela Condemns U.S. Ruling

By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela on Wednesday condemned a U.S. court ruling that blocks the deportation of a Cuban militant wanted in the South American country for a 1976 airliner bombing, denying a judge's claims that he could be tortured if handed over. Cuba called the decision "disgraceful."

President Hugo Chavez said the decision by a U.S. immigration judge in the case of Luis Posada Carriles protects a terrorist and shows the "cynicism of the empire," a term he uses for     President Bush's government.

In his ruling Monday, the judge in El Paso, Texas, cited conventions against sending a person to a country where he could face torture.

Posada, a 77-year-old Cuban who also holds Venezuelan citizenship and was once a     CIA operative, is accused of masterminding the bombing from Caracas, but has denied involvement. All 73 people on board the Cubana Airlines plane were killed when it exploded after takeoff from Barbados.

Chavez said the decision not to hand over Posada was hyprocritical for a U.S. government that has faced charges of human rights abuses in  Iraq.

Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel called the ruling "vile, and just as sinister as the very act of terrorism."

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the country's constitution prohibits torture and insisting the United States is legally bound to comply with its extradition request.

Chavez and his close ally Cuban leader     Fidel Castro have called Posada the top terrorist in the Americas.

"With this disgraceful decision, the U.S. justice system showed the double standard of its politics," Cuba's Communist Party daily Granma said. A front-page headline in the daily Juventud Rebelde declared: "The United States protects its terrorist Posada Carriles."

Posada is accused of illegally entering the United States from Mexico in March. He was arrested in May and is being held in El Paso pending a review of the case by immigration authorities.

Chavez's government has said if Posada is extradited, he would not be turned over to Cuba but would be tried for murder and treason in a Venezuelan court.

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