Cuba militant Luis Posada Carriles on trial in US

Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, 8 November 2010 Mr Posada Carriles' face carries bullet scars from a 1999 attempt on his life

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Veteran Cuban anti-communist militant and former CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles has gone on trial in the US on immigration charges.

Mr Posada Carriles, 82, is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba over two deadly bomb attacks and plots to kill the former Cuban president, Fidel Castro

US authorities have refused to extradite him to Cuba or Venezuela, saying he might be tortured there.

Cuba and Venezuela have accused the US of harbouring a convicted terrorist.

Mr Posada Carriles is on trial in El Paso, Texas, on charges of entering the US illegally in 2005.

He said he sneaked across the border from Mexico into Texas, but prosecutors say he actually arrived in Miami, Florida, by boat using a fake passport.

He is also accused of lying to immigration officials about his alleged role in bomb attacks in Cuba.

Jury selection for the trial has begun, but most of the evidence in the trial is sealed.

The left-wing governments of Cuba and Venezuela say Mr Posada Carriles should be facing far more serious charges, and have accused the US of protecting him because of his CIA past.

Long struggle

The Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen spent decades trying to overthrow the communist government in Cuba, and is seen as a hero by some anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the US.

He is accused of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people were killed.

He was jailed in Venezuela over the bombing, but escaped from prison in 1985.

He was then jailed in Panama in 2000 for plotting the assassination of his arch-enemy, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but was pardoned and released four years later.

The Cuban authorities say he was also behind the bombing of a Havana hotel, in 1997, that killed an Italian tourist.

Mr Posada Carriles has always denied involvement in the airline bombing and the alleged plot against Castro in Panama, but admits fighting for "freedom" in Cuba.

Declassified US documents show that he worked for the CIA between 1965 and 1976.

He is also said to have worked for the intelligence agencies of Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina and Chile, and to have supported Contra rebels in Nicaragua, during his long campaign against left-wing influence in Latin America.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Mr Posada Carriles acknowledged that times had changed, and he could no longer rely on protection from the US government.

"The people who worked with me in the government are not the same as the ones there today," he said.

"It was other times. For those there today, I am a bad guy."

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