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American Accused Of Drug Trafficking Hospitalized After Heart Attack

January 25, 1989

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ John Hull, an American jailed on charges of drug trafficking, suffered a heart attack Tuesday and was transferred to a local hospital, officials said.

Hull, a longtime resident of Costa Rica, is a well-known supporter of the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels. Costa Rican authorities arrested Hull, 69, two weeks ago on charges of drug trafficking and violating Costa Rican security.

Hull was later formally charged by the 4th District Court. He was awaiting a court hearing when he suffered a heart attack in San Sebastian Jail early Tuesday.

Hospital director Matias Quezada told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Hull was temporarily transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit after losing consciousness, but later was returned to a regular hospital room.

Quezada said Hull was to remain in the hospital for at least 48 hours for observation.

The hospital director said Hull was handcuffed to his bed, but he said he would ask authorities to remove the cuffs for fear Hull would suffer another atttack.

Hull’s lawyer, Elda Zuniga, said in a telephone interview that 4th District Court Judge Laovigildo Rodriguez on Tuesday denied her appeal for Hull’s release.

″It’s a clear case of political persecution, but I am going to appeal again until Hull is released on bail,″ Ms. Zuniga said.

She said Hull is not guilty of the charges and that his arrest was unconstitutional.

Ms. Zuniga said her client is charged under a drug law passed in 1987 and that the law is not retroactive. Hull is charged of acts that allegedly occurred in 1984, she said.

Sources in the Office of Judicial Investigations have said Hull was arrested for investigation into charges of drug and weapons trafficking and spying for the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan rebels known as Contras.

The Office of Judicial Investigation sources said they acted after residents near his farm in Los Chiles, on the Nicaraguan border, denounced activities by Hull. The acts were seen as possibly endangering relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

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.

Convicted cocaine pilot Gary Betzner has testified that Hull once met his plane when it landed on the ranch to exchange Contra arms for Colombian cocaine.

Hull has strongly denied any connection to drug trafficking.

Hull also was among 29 people named in a civil suit filed last year by two journalists involving a 1984 bombing in Nicaragua that killed eight people.

Tony Avirgan filed the suit with his wife, Martha Honey, after being wounded in the bombing.

A U.S. district judge in Miami ruled in favor of the defendants, saying the plaintiffs failed to prove their basic contention that a wide-ranging conspiracy was behind the bombing.

The apparent target of the bombing, Contra leader Eden Pastora, was wounded.

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