Courts & Crime

Judge again delays U.S. trial for Cuban exile tied to Havana bombings

MIAMI — The federal trial of Cuban militant exile Luis Posada Carriles, which was scheduled to start March 1, has been postponed for at least three months.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, Thursday granted the prosecution's request for a delay and set May 20 for a status conference to determine whether a new trial date could be set then.

The prosecution's motion was sealed -- kept secret -- by Cardone, so it was impossible to determine why the government sought the last-minute delay in a case that has been on the docket since 2007.

The motion was only one of a flurry of about 40 sealed motions filed in the case since Jan. 1 by several parties involved. Some attorneys described it as an unusual level of secrecy.

Posada stands accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with a string of bombings in Havana in 1997 and making false statements under oath in an immigration procedure involving his illegal entry into the United States in 2005.

Prosecutors hope to prove that Posada lied under oath when he denied he was "involved in soliciting other individuals to carry out the bombings . . . in Cuba.''

A second perjury charge involved his denial that he arranged for Raúl Cruz León, a citizen of El Salvador, to carry explosives into Cuba in 1997. Cruz León, jailed under a death sentence in Cuba since 1997, has confessed that he placed several of the bombs in Havana tourist centers, which killed one Italian tourist and wounded others.

Nine charges of obstruction of justice and false statements under oath involve statements he made to U.S. officials regarding the manner in which he slipped into the United States.

The case also involves lawyers for The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald, who have fought against some motions to seal documents in the case, as well as The New York Times and Ann Louise Bardach, who interviewed Posada and wrote a story about him for The Times.

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