Indiana Man Refuses to Talk About Alleged Links With North-Contra Case
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ A rancher from Indiana who has been accused of links to drug trafficking and the Iran-Contra scandal is an honorable man, one of his lawyers said Friday.
A Costa Rican congressional commission investigating drug trafficking and money laundering recommended Thursday that rancher John Hull be stripped of his citizenship and expelled from the country.
″Eventually we will show that he is an honorable man,″ said Rita Herrera, one of Hull’s lawyers, in a telephone interview. She refused to comment further.
A person who answered the telephone at Hull’s residence said he was not talking to reporters on the advice of both his doctors and lawyers.
Hull, 69, is from Evansville, Ind. He has been living in Costa Rica for two decades and says he became a naturalized citizen seven years ago.
The congressional commission also recommended that President Oscar Arias’ administration bar from the country former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North and any other person involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former U.S. National Security Adviser John Poindexter, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord, and Lewis Tambs, former ambassador to Costa Rica.
The commission report said that ″certain American authorities had permitted the shipment of cocaine to the United States through Costa Rica with the object of channeling illegal funds to the Nicaraguan counterrevolution.″
North was a leader in a covert effort to aid the Nicaraguan Contra guerrillas fighting the leftist Sandinista government in Managua at a time when such aid had been prohibited by the U.S. Congress.
The commission’s voluminous report also revealed a scandal involving another American and a former president of Costa Rica and a number of other high government officials.
Hull has been indicted in Costa Rica on charges of drug trafficking and violating state security, but no trial date has been set. Hull pleaded innocent and was released on $37,500 bail after his doctors said he had suffered a heart attack.
Planes secretly landed at Hull’s hillside ranch near the northern town of Muelle San Carlos to smuggle weapons from 1984 to 1985 to U.S.-supported Contra rebels fighting in southern Nicaragua, according to allegations in court.
The planes also allegedly ferried drugs out of the country to be sold in the United States to pay for the weapons.
North, a former National Security aide, and several of the other American officials visited Costa Rica to give Hull and the Contras instructions, in complicity with Benjamin Piza, the Costa Rican Public Security Minister at the time, the commission’s report said.
The commission recommended that Piza be censured and barred from holding any public job for life.
The commission also recommended that Arias force former President Daniel Oduber to return $12,000 in contributions that another American, Lionel Casey Brothers, made to the 1981 election campaign of President Luis Alberto Monge.
The American gave the money to Oduber, who was in office from 1972 to 1976, the commission said. Oduber testified before the commission that he had given the money to the National Liberation Party treasury. The party has made no comment on the matter.
Brothers, who has been living in Costa Rica for 10 years, is awaiting extradition to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.
The commission also recommended that current laws be changed to lift banking secrecy on all accounts containing more than $5,000 and that foreigners be forbidden to contribute to election campaigns in Costa Rica.