By ALFONSO CHARDY (achardy@ElNuevoHerald.com)
Fri, Apr. 08, 2011
After deliberating for about three hours, a jury of seven women and five men acquitted Luis Posada Carriles on Friday on all 11 charges in an indictment that accused him of lying about his alleged role in bombings in Cuba in 1997 and about how he sneaked into the country in 2005.
As soon as U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone read the unanimous verdict, Posada and his three lawyers merged into a tight embrace that lasted several seconds as the federal prosecutors sat without showing emotion.
The verdict was a surprise to many observers who had expected the jurors to deliberate for a few days before reaching a decision. The observers also expected the jurors to find Posada guilty on at least some counts. No one had predicted an acquittal across the board on all perjury and fraud charges.
Acquittal caps a slow-moving trial that lasted 13 weeks and featured 33 witnesses from the prosecution and the defense.
Jurors began their deliberations Friday morning at around 9 a.m. El Paso time and by 11:57 a.m. had sent a note to Judge Cardone saying they had reached a verdict in the perjury trial against Posada, a former CIA operative charged with lying to U.S. immigration officials about his alleged role in the Cuba bombings and how he entered the country in 2005.
Had the jurors found Posada guilty on all charges, he might have faced eight years in the federal penitentiary. Despite the acquittal, Posada may not walk a totally free man. A pending deportation order against him may prompt federal immigration authorities to require that he report regularly to an immigration office, as if he were on permanent supervised release.