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American’s Lawyer To Ask That Trial Be Moved

January 18, 1989

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ An attorney for John Hull, an American charged with drug and weapons trafficking, said she will ask the judge in the case to move proceedings to Hull’s hometown in northern Costa Rica.

Hull, who has been linked to an illegal arms-supply network aiding the Nicaraguan rebels, was arrested at his ranch last Thursday. Officials said he also was being investigated on charges of spying for the U.S.-backed rebels, known as Contras.

Attorney Elda Zuniga said Hull, who suffers from diabetes, became ill on Monday and was sent to the infirmary at the San Sebastian Jail, where he is being held. The jail is in San Jose, the capital.

Hull’s condition improved and he was back in his cell Tuesday, Ms. Zuniga said. She did not say why Hull became ill.

Ms. Zuniga said she will ask Judge Leovigildo Rodriguez of the 4th Federal District Court to order the proceedings moved to San Carlos, about 105 miles north of San Jose. Hull’s ranch is in nearby Los Chiles.

The judge will decide on the request during an open hearing scheduled for Friday, Ms. Zuniga said.

The Office of Judicial Investigations acted after residents near Hull’s ranch denounced activities by Hull that they believed could endanger relations with Costa Rica and Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government, an official with the office said.

The Attorney General’s Office formally charged Hull on Friday.

Hull, about 69 and a former Indiana resident, has lived in Costa Rica for 20 years. Ms. Zuniga said he became a naturalized Costa Rican citizen eight years ago, when he moved to Los Chiles.

Ms. Zuniga said she would move for dismissal of the drug charges because they were based on alleged incidents that occurred in 1984, about three years before Costa Rica’s legislature approved an anti-narcotics trafficking law upon which the prosecution is based.

″According to our Constitution, Article 34, no citizen can be accused of things that occurred before 1987, the year in which the legislative assembly approved the narcotics law,″ she said.

Hull has denied any drug trafficking connections. He said in 1986 that authorities twice raided his home in unsuccessful attempts to find evidence of gun running and drug smuggling.

Hull has acknowledged permitting the Contras to use his ranch property for their activities before the Iran-Contra case broke in 1986. In the case, Reagan administration officials sent arms to Iran for money to be sent to the Contras.

Witnesses testifying before Congress on illegal arms shipments to the Contras have said Hull’s ranch was a way station for gun smugglers and cocaine traffickers.

Hull was not among 13 men indicted in September in Miami on charges of running an illegal arms network for the Contras. Reports said Hull was granted immunity by the special prosecutor in the case.

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