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December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 22, 2010
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June 7, 1981
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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680027-3 STAT ARTICLE. APPEARED ON PAGE X-3 -By JOE TRCNTO Staff reporter ? WASHINGTON Fearing death from anti-Castro Cubans, a key gov- ernment witness says he delibera- tely tried to sound less believable in the retrial of two Cuban nationalists for, the -murder of Chilean leftist Orlando Letelier. t ". The.retria'l ended May 30 with the acquittal of Guillermo Novo Sam- pol, 41,'-and Alvin Ross Diaz, 48. They had . been serving life sen- tences. Ricardo Cete;'fiown ~liidiing Under the Federal Witness Protec tion Program;told the Sunday News Jburnal that "I decided in order to save my wife and, family I had to sound less convincing. I cannot rely on the government to protect me or them. I was convinced the govern- ment would not make their case and they didn't." .-_ .) ,~.:r In an interview, Canete, also,said 'the star. government ;,,witness, Michael -,Vernon,. Townley-,-;coned down his testimony.' Letelier, the 44-year-old spokes- man for the overthrown Allende regime in Chile, was killed along with an American;co-worker in a ,Washington; D.C:'car bombing pit ':Seat; 71,1976. E. Lawrence Barcella - an. assistant`U.S,:`attoihey *h0 prosecuted the case,: called it the most. blatant at of terrorism In United States history. Barcella confirmed last week that ?"Rick.[Canete) made a terrible wit- ness. He usually is a consummate actor and he just wasn't this time." , Barcella also said that Townley, serving a -plea-bargained 3-to-10- year-sentence as the trigger man and organizer of the Letelier killing, "was just. not as -convincing as he', was in the first- trial. They just. didn't believe Mike." In that origi, nal trial in January 1979 the defen- dants were convicted. Canete said it.was clear in Town- ley's testimony at the second trial - that."Mike isn't' happy about having to spend time in jail when the guys h t titi' d - :..,..& ,-- e 7 June 19#31 ;W1IL:?I`1GTON :'1~';1S JOJit~1AIJ Townley was not available for an ' interview.-Barcella, says that. rules about.. government-protected - wit -nesses in prison are so strict that no interview was allowed. "He just wasn't as sharp and I know he is a sharp guy,"-Barcella said about Townley. - "1 think he understood that the politics of the situation had changed. The Reagan people had a lot of support in the ' Cuban community. One high official at the Justice Department believes that it is only a matter of time before the order comes down for Barcella and. the FBI to put the Letelier case "on the shelf.". That official asked that his name not be used. "It is an embarrassment to prose- cute and try to extradite officials of a government you are trying to improve relations with," the Justice . Department attorney said. ?`- Barcella says "the fact that we .have : indicted three Chilean offi- cials, and the Reagan Administra- tion has lifted sanctiong that Carter had put on that government for not. ?extradicting them, ` 'gives . 'the impression the government, isn't behind : this --prosecution .... 'The Letelier .case is.a Jimmy Carter human rights leftover." . Barcella'said that while he was not happy' about the acquittal of Novo and 'Ross, "they were aides to Townley in the plot. Those behind the murder 'are still protected in Chile by the government and still at large." He was referring to two indicted Cuban Nationalists, whom he called "more direct participants" in the fatal bombing; and to-three indicted Chilean secret police, officials who .are protected from extradition fort trial here by the Chilean govern-' ?3ment. ?The Cuban Nationalists, Virgilio Paz Romero, 29, and Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, 42, received their training in. explosives and.assassi- nation from the CIA during the days when anti-Castro activity was sanc- tioned by the government. The Sunday. 'News Journal reported in February 1980 that intelligence and law enforcement officials in the United States, Chile and South Africa believe the. men have also been used in a dozen such -political .assassinations ' in their, countries. A CIA-official, who helped train the Cubans, said last week, "Look, -when you implicate. the Chilean secret police, you implicate our own .-CIA. The Chileans - indicted=[Juan .Manuel}-Contreras Sepulvelda, who .headed , their: ; secret police and. ordered the killing, recently partici-; pated in security exercises with U.S '! tintelligencew , , :.:Barcella and -L. Carter Cornick,: ``f he FBI.agentin charge of. the Lete her:_irive_tigationsay the?most: humiliating'?aspect is-the fact that' they had to. go.-to the CIA, "haft -in. hand," as:=-Barcella put it,,.; and-; ,request the CIA. to volunteer infor- mation about ,how much of. a. role's ..U.S.:uitelligeiice had in traintng.the_' - Cubans and the Chileans. - ~?. - :'~~ "It is very possible the CIA lied_to , me and withheld information from -me on these cases," Barcella said after the- retrial. "Some.reporters_I might suggest I took a dive on these.:, But dammit, I have to have facts to go into court and the CIA-can just' about do anything they want" Still wanted are Contreras Sepul- velda,'and two agents of- DINA, the Chilean' -: secret police,-. -j:Capt. ,Armando Fernandez Larios and Col. Pedro Espinoza. ;Barcella has little hope of seeing; ? them tried. "My stock isn't too high f over at. the State Department these `days,".he says with a laugh,.refer-- .+ ring to the possibility, the men will 'J be expatriated:= - Canete.-was'a valuable;`witness- of? .-because as. a' founding member, the Cuban-Nationalist.Movement in "the United States, he infiltrated the ;,leadership of Omega 7... e es ' Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22: CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680027-3