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Anti-Castro Militant in Hiding After Release

August 8, 1987

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Freed from 11 years’ imprisonment, anti-Castro militant Orlando Bosch was in hiding Saturday after being acquitted of terrorism charges in connection with the bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Bosch, released on provisional liberty from La Planta jail in Caracas on Friday night, apparently feared an attempt on his life by Cuban agents.

The release came two days after a superior court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict him on charges he planned the 1976 bomb attack that killed 73 people on a Cuban airliner.

Two co-defendants were sentenced to 20 years each for homicide and are serving their terms in Venezuelan jails.

Controversy over the decision heated up Saturday.

The newspaper El Nacional quoted Jose Vicente Rangel, a prominent leftist politician, as saying: ″This decision is an inducement to terrorism,″

Carlos Andres Perez, who was president at the time of the sabotage, also criticized the decision.

As president, Perez insisted on trying the case in Venezuela because Bosch’s co-defendants were Venezuelans, although the plane blew up in Barbados’ airspace and the plane was Cuban.

Bosch, 59, a Cuban, entered Venezuela a few days before the bombing on a false Dominican Republic passport using the name of Jose Paniagua.

The newspaper El Universal on Saturday quoted Perez as saying: ″It shames me ... that true justice has not been done.″

Bosch’s provisional liberty allows him freedom within the jurisdiction of Caracas, but his four guarantors need pay a fine of only about $50 if he skips town.

Since the case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, he will not be at complete liberty until after a final verdict is handed down.

Last week’s acquittal was the third ruling in favor of Bosch, who despite the lower court acquittals was never released from jail.

The plane blew up shortly after taking off from Barbados on Oct.6, 1976. It was going from Caracas to Cuba with a stopover in Barbados. Those killed included members of the Cuban fencing team, returning from a tournament.

The Cuban government considers Bosch a murderer and reacted with fury over his acquittal and release.

In the past, Cuban news media warned that Cubans could ″take justice into their own hands″ if Bosch and his co-defendants were not convicted and harshly punished.

Bosch is considered a major leader of those opposed to Cuban President Fidel Castro. Members of Miami’s huge Cuban exile community greeted with joy the news that he was free.

Miami Cubans have promised him a hero’s welcome if he returns to Miami. He fled the city in 1974 while on parole for a 1972 conviction for leading a bazooka attack on a Polish freighter moored in Miami.

Venezuelan officials have expressed the hope that the decision does not worsen Cuban-Venezuelan relations, although they have been strained for some time to a great extent because of the Bosch case.

In 1980, Cuba pulled its diplomatic representatives out of Caracas when a military court acquitted Bosch.

The two nations still have not exchanged ambassadors, although they do maintain lower level diplomatic representation.

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