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  • Rodriguez Llerena next to the Melia Cohiba hotel he was arrested for bombing.

    Rodriguez Llerena next to the Melia Cohiba hotel he was arrested for bombing. | Photo: Reuters

Rodriguez Llerena was arrested in June 1998 at the Havana airport while carrying 1.5 kilograms of explosives.

Cuban authorities released on parole El Salvador's former military official Otto Rodriguez Llerena, who was arrested and sentenced to the death penalty in 1999 for setting up explosives in various hotels in Havana during the 1990s, reported La Prensa Grafica Monday.

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Rodriguez Llerena was arrested in June 1998 at the Havana airport while carrying 1.5 kilograms of explosives and was found guilty of the bombing of the luxury hotel Melia Cohiba on Aug. 4, 1997, which resulted in material damages without victims.

After the attack, Rodriguez Llerena left Cuba and came back one year later in order to deliver explosives that he said were provided by Cuban anti-communist terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

In December 2010 Rodriguez Llerena's sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison as a gesture of goodwill by the Cuban government to the Salvadorean FMLN party that had won general elections a year earlier.

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El Salvador's then-President Mauricio Funes reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba which had been interrupted in 1961 shortly after the Cuban Revolution. Cuba reduced Rodriguez Llerena's sentence, as well as the sentences of with two other Salvadorean citizens charged with terrorism.

As Prensa Grafica suggested, the latter two were not released possibly because Rodriguez Llerena had reportedly collaborated with Cuban authorities throughout the duration of his detention and promised to collaborate with U.S. prosecutors over the trial of Posada-Carriles.

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According to an interview he gave to AP, Rodriguez Llerena offered to testify in a U.S. court without being pressured, affirming that Posada-Carriles was “the person who contacted him in El Salvador” in order to carry out bomb attacks.

Posada-Carriles, a former CIA agent who carried out attacks and counterinsurgency activities in Central America and Venezuela, is facing trial in the United States for the allegedly illegal manner in which he entered U.S. territory in 2005 as a Cuban refugee. A fugitive from justice in Cuba, Posada-Carriles is not being tried for the dozen of bombings he organized in Cuba or for the murder plot against former President Fidel Castro, for which he is wanted in Cuba.

He is also a fugitive from Venezuela justice, as he escaped from prison while apealing his guilty sentence for shooting down Cubana Flight 455 in 1976.


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