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December 22, 2016
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August 20, 2010
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May 31, 1981
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. Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000606730004-7 ARTICLE APPE.4itbD ON PAGE A Letelier.: P,,A-.,- u rd J. Not Guilty Verdict Reverses. the Finding Of First Vial's Jury. By Laura A,. Kiernan--_- Two anti-Castro Cubans were ac- quitted yesterday by a U.S...District Court jury of murder and conspiracy in connection with the 1976- can bombing assassination of former, Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier. It was a dramatic reversal of another jury's verdict more than two years ago convicting the two men of all charges.. The two defendants, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Alvin Ross. Diaz,. who were serving life terms in. prison until a federal appeals court-granted them a new trial, stood silently as jury, foreman Catherine Nicholson . deliv-' ered the verdict at 1:48 p.m. yester- day. The jury of eight women and four men had deliberated for: almost 17 hours over three days before..they reached a verdict The jury did convict Novo, 41, of two counts of making false declara tions to a federal grand jury that was investigating the Letelier assassination? considered the most notorious act -of international terrorism ever-''com- mitted in Washington. Letelier,' 44,' and an . associate, Ronni.Karperr'Mof fitt, 25, were killed when a bomb ex=- ploded under Letelier's car, as it. rounded Sheridan Circle on-Embassy.- Row on Sept 21,1976. Novo's lawyer, Paul A. Goldberger. sat on the edge of his seat at the dew: fense table as Nicholson said that the jurors found his client "not guilty"-of conspiracy and murder in connection with, the two deaths. A companion of Novo's, who identified herself only as Maria, clasped the hand of Ross' wife;_. Sally, whom he married shortly after .' the two men were released . from last April on $400,000 bond. U.S. Dish- trict Judge Barrington D.. - Parker' stopped a federal marshal =who '-was; going to silence the two-sobbing -. women while the verdict was need.', THE WASHINGTON POST 31 May 1981 After the jurors had left the `sixth= floor courtroom, Ross and Novo and their lawyers embraced as 'the pros- . ecutors stood nearby. Later, Ross, 48,. said he plans to "put my life together y start working and try to overthrow Castro." Novo, who like Ross is a . member of the Cuban nationalist.. movement in northern New-_Je-rsey, said, "I feel wonderful, wonderful Jus- tice has been done." U.S. Attorney Charles F.C. Ruff lis = tened to the verdict from the back of the courtroom with his head: bowed - and said afterward he had na'com=' ment on the jury's decision.. _ ; . Assistant U.S. Attorney : & Lawf; rence Barcella Jr. said later,. It's a disappointment, but we . accept:: the - jury's verdict." Assistant U.S,' attor- -' neys M. Lowell Brown and Cary .11'L Feldman were also part of.the. pros- ecution team that had reassembled- the complicated murder . case'- last.: March after the Justice Department'.. decided not to ask the U.S.;Supreme? Court to review the appeals court rul ing that reversed the original convic- tions. The appeals court said that tes- timony against Novo and Ross from fellow prisoners was improperly intro- duced as evidence at the first trial. Reached by telephone at her home in Washington, Letelier's widow, Is- abel, said, "I think justice has differ- ent ways of showing itself. My hus- band is not here any more. What can I say? Ronni is not here any more." The government's case had rested heavily at both trials on the testimony of their key witness, Michael Vernon Townley, an American born agent for the Chilean secret police, once known as DINA. Townley told both juries that under orders from his DINA su- periors, he recruited the 'Cubans to help him carry out the murder of-Le- telier, an ardent, outspoken critic of the military regime of Chile's presi- dent, Augusto 'Pinochet. Townley pleaded guilty in 1978 to conspiracy to murder a foreign official and is serving 3'/z to 10 years in prison. Defense lawyers Goldberger and Lawrence A. Dubin attacked-Townley during the trial as an accomplished liar who made a deal to cooperate with the U.S. government, after he was expelled from Chile in 1978, to protect himself and then implicated they Cubans to bolster the prosecu- Lion's case. Neither Novo - nor Ross 1 testified at either trial. The defense theories at the two trials were sharply different. At' the first trial, ending in convictions, the e ense con n that the US. en, tr me igence Agency had orches- trated the murder of Letelier with Towne actin as a double agent. At retrial, t e defense said that the Chilean government under Pinochet, DINA and Townley had carried out an t5at 't`own the mur er p ot _ 'haclenat he-hiRh- ) ex- losive tafTilew u ?- e ieerrswere car. Letelier, .44 at the time of his. death, held various high-ranking po-' sitions under the coalition government of Marxist Salvador Allende, who was killed during a military coup led by Pinochet in September 1973. Letelier spent a year in a Chilean prison camp in the Straits of Magellan, was ex- pelted from Chile and came to the United States with his family in 1975. He and Moffitt were employed at the Ln titute for Policy Studies, a leftist t - , tank on foreign and 'military airs in Washington, when they were killed. Ronni Moftitt's husband, Mi- chael, who was also in the car, sur- vived. The prosecution contended that the Cubans. hoped to establish a govern- ment in exile in Chile and hoped to' gain , favor with that government by assisting in the assassination of Le- telier, who had been stripped of his Chilean citizenship and declared an enemy of the country. The defense said the Cubans never goany elp f r o m - e an were maZpe- oa& m -the Letelier case in order to shield the Pinochet government from culpability in them murders. After the ' announced the ac- quit yeste ay, o Der said the e ensewas una a et t e ocu- ments it niCkFed to rove the CIA e ense. We to t t s t eo at the retrial made sense so we went for it," Goldberger said. Asked if the two theories were in- consistent, Goldberger said, "You don't Have to be consistent You, just have to win." At the retrial, which lasted about 2'/z weeks, the defense also presented new evidence to the jury about a taped conversation of a telephone call that Townley made from the U.S. attorney's office to a friend in Chile during the original trial in January 1979. During that call, 'Townley made disparaging. remarks about Judge Par- ker and said he would ask friends to make threatening calls to the judge. . ~. rf T1 l Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000606730004-7