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Chile Ambassador Bombing Man Freed

August 15, 2001

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) _ A Cuban man who was involved in a car bombing that killed a former Chilean ambassador and his aide in the mid-1970s was released from federal custody.

Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, 62, walked out of the Immigration and Naturalization Service jail in Bradenton on Tuesday after serving eight years of a 12-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for the bombing.

``This is a fantastic day because I’m going to embrace my family and my children,″ said the 62-year-old Suarez.

Killed in the Sept. 21, 1976 blast were Orlando Letelier and his American aide, Ronni Moffitt. Moffitt’s husband, who was in the back seat, was injured.

Suarez was paroled in 1997 but held in a federal prison while awaiting deportation. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that indefinite detentions were unconstitutional.

Letelier served as Chile’s ambassador to Washington and foreign minister and defense minister in the 1970s under socialist President Salvador Allende, whose friendly relations with Cuban President Fidel Castro earned him the enmity of Cuban exiles.

Prosecutors said the assassination was the work of the Chilean secret police, and carried out by Cuban exiles. The secret police wanted Letelier eliminated as a leading critic of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military regime.

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