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Deadly FBI Mission in Puerto Rico Probed

October 4, 2005

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The Justice Department confirmed Monday that it will investigate the FBI raid that led to the killing of a Puerto Rican independence militant in a gunfight last month.

Investigators will probe the Sept. 23 death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios and interview the FBI agents as well as the Puerto Rican government, Paul Martin, deputy inspector general, told the daily newspaper El Nuevo Dia in an interview.

The FBI was widely criticized in the U.S. territory after the slaying at a farmhouse in southeastern Puerto Rico of Ojeda Rios, who was wanted for the 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo armored truck depot in West Hartford, Conn.

The FBI said Ojeda Rios shot at agents first. Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila questioned the handling of the operation; and Ojeda Rios’ widow, who escaped from the farmhouse unharmed, alleged the FBI fired first.

The shooting prompted street marches in which some protesters burned American flags and defaced two McDonald’s restaurants with graffiti saying ``FBI murderers.″

Ojeda Rios, 72, was the leader of the militant pro-independent group Macheteros, or Cane Cutters, whose most notorious act was the $7.2 million Wells Fargo robbery. He had been on the run for 15 years.

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