Crucial moment for Puerto Rican political prisoner: U.S. Commission will decide Carlos A. Torres’ case

Crucial moment for Puerto Rican political prisoner: U.S. Commission will decide Carlos A. Torres’ case

By José A. Delgado / jdelgado@elnuevodia.com

February 17, 2010

http://www.elnuevodia.com/momentocrucialparapresopoliticoboricua-673046.html

Translated by Jan Susler

WASHINGTON – Some time after this week, a U.S. commission can decide whether to grant parole to Puerto Rican political prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres, who in April will have served 30 years in prison.

“There is no deadline for the decision,” informed his attorney Jan Susler. But it’s a fact that soon, Torres, 57 years old, will learn the ruling on his second bid for parole in 15 years. The first was denied.

A year ago, when he was just a week from the new hearing before the U.S. Parole Commission, prison authorities at Pekin (Illinois) accused him of having three “shanks” in his cell.

One of the prisoners who shares the cell with Torres— who is serving a 70 year prison sentence after being found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his connections with the clandestine group Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN)— admitted the “shanks” were his.

The charges were dismissed, but they were reinstated, and as part of the parole application process, he’s had to once again defend against them, in spite of the fact that the person who hid the weapons provided a sworn statement saying his cellmates were not responsible.

In spite of pressure from the Bureau of Prisons, the hearing examiner on the case has recommended that Torres be granted parole in July. The decision is in the hands of the Commissioners who make up the Parole Commission. “We are moderately optimistic,” stated the chair of the Human Rights Committee in Puerto Rico, Eduardo Villanueva, former president of the Bar Association.

“No Puerto Rican political prisoner has served more time in prison than he has,” said Susler, who stated that the Bureau of Prisons is trying to “sabotage the process.” In addition to the “shanks” accusation, they have classified Torres, for the first time, as a “security threat,” and are monitoring letters he receives in Spanish, including those from his attorneys, among other measures.

Another Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar López, also connected to the FALN, will have served 29 years in prison this year, the same number of years served by the Nationalist, Oscar Collazo, for the 1950 shooting at Blair House, president Harry Truman’s residence.

International support

Villanueva maintains that the U.S. Parole Commission has surely never had to deal with a parole application that has received more support from a people, including political leaders of the three ideologies and religious organizations on the Island. “More than ten towns have approved resolutions for the release of Carlos Alberto and Oscar,” he added.

Petitions supporting Torres’ parole have also been sent from throughout the world, including Mexico.

López hasn’t wanted to apply for parole, aware of the past experience of other prisoners, and he hasn’t wanted any such privilege while Torres is still in prison.

The other Puerto Rican political prisoner in U.S. prison, Avelino González Claudio, recently plead guilty to two charges related to the $7 million robbery of Wells Fargo, in Hartford (Connecticut), which took place September 12, 1983, for which The Macheteros took responsibility.

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