Viewing cable 04PANAMA925
Title: PANAMA COURT SENTENCES ANTI-CASTRO CONSPIRATORS,

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04PANAMA9252004-04-22 13:30:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 000925 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
STATE FOR WHA/CEN/OMALLEY, CA/OCS/GREY 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2014 
TAGS: PHUM PREL CJAN CASC SNAR CU PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA COURT SENTENCES ANTI-CASTRO CONSPIRATORS, 
GOP DISCUSSES POSSIBLE FUTURE ACTIONS 
 
 
REF: A. 03 PANAMA 0722 
     ¶B. 03 PANAMA 2382 
     ¶C. PANAMA 0672 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Linda E. Watt for Reasons 1.5 (B and D) 
 
 
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Six Sentences 
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¶1.  (SBU) On April 20, Panama's Fifth Penal Court convicted 
six anti-Castro conspirators, including three AmCits, for 
endangering public safety and sentenced them to seven and 
eight-year jail terms for a November 2000 plot to kill Fidel 
Castro.  (See Refs A and B.)  Luis Posada Carriles, currently 
stateless, and AmCit Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo were sentenced 
to eight years; one year was tacked on for carrying 
fraudulent passports.  AmCits Pedro Crispin Remon and 
Guillermo Novo Sampoll, and Cuban-Panamanian Cesar Matamores 
were sentenced to seven years, while Panamanian Jose Hurtado 
Viceros received four years.  All six men have been in prison 
for around 40 months and will receive credit for time served. 
 (See Ref. C)  The Court acquitted the defendants of 
possession of explosives.  Attempted murder charges had been 
dropped early on.  The Venezuelan government continues to 
publicly seek the extradition of the stateless Posada 
Carriles, who was convicted and imprisoned for the 1976 
bombing of a Cuban airliner which killed 73 people.  (See 
Refs A and B for background on this case.) 
 
 
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Public Statements Slowly Emerging 
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¶2.  (SBU) The court and, initially, the attorneys have been 
tight-lipped, despite Embassy's efforts to learn more about 
the judge's decision.  On April 21, Rogelio Cruz (lead 
defense attorney) spoke with the Embassy's American Citizen 
Services (ACS) staff and said an appeal will be filed within 
10-15 days.  Cruz claimed the convictions were "poorly 
supported" and the forthcoming publication of the judge's 
decision will demonstrate this.  Cruz expressed appreciation 
on behalf of the defense team and the defendants for the 
Embassy's calls and follow-up on this case.  La Prensa quoted 
the Cuban Ambassador to Panama, who said the sentence 
"proves" the prisoners are terrorists. 
 
 
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No Extradition for Posada Carriles 
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¶3. (C) At a April 20 meeting with the POL Counselor, Minister 
of Government and Justice Arnulfo Escalona said that a formal 
GOP decision to deny Venezuela's extradition request for 
Posada Carriles would be forthcoming soon. Escalona added 
that the GOP is considering whether to release Posada 
Carriles and the others when they finish two-thirds of their 
terms (including time served) and whether to permit Posada 
Carriles, who entered Panama on a fraudulent Salvadoran 
passport and is currently stateless, to remain in Panama 
after his release.  (Note: The possibility of a prison 
transfer to a US prison under our bilateral prisoner exchange 
agreement for the Cuban-Americans was not discussed but 
remains a potential option.)  Escalona hinted that he would 
like to discuss options with the USG after the May 2 
Panamanian election. 
 
 
WATT