Tuesday, September 12, 2006
CUBAN-American terrorists Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat pleaded guilty yesterday, September 11, in Fort Lauderdale, to charges of illegal weapons possession, after suddenly negotiating a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid a risky jury trial outside the mafia sanctuary of Miami.
The plea deal reduces the number of charges from three to one, throwing out a charge of arms trafficking that would have carried a 20-year prison term.
Alvarez and Mitat could still remain behind bars for several more years, however, given that the prosecution is seeking a five-year sentence.
The brusque change in legal strategy for the two criminals clearly shows that the Cuban-American mafia considers Miami to be a territory that it dominates sufficiently to manipulate a jury and impose its will.
It implicitly proves correct the lawyers of the Cuban Five who, precisely, say that an impartial trial for them is impossible in Florida.
For two months, lawyers for Alvarez and Mitat unsuccessfully tried to obtain a change of venue, which was repeatedly denied by Judge James Cohn.
According to local press reports, prosecutors intended to show that in 2001, Alvarez financed a terrorist infiltration into Cuba, which had as one of its missions the bombing of the well-known Tropicana nightclub when it was full of people. However, the Cuban-American terrorists Alvarez and Mitat, benefiting from a suspicious immunity granted by President George W. Bush, were not charged with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism.
Their sentences will be announced on November 14. (J-G.A.)