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HomeLead StoryProof of Coverup In Filiberto Ojeda Case

Proof of Coverup In Filiberto Ojeda Case

Jesús Dávila

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, January 22, 2009 (NCM) – The final report of the Government of Puerto Rico which exonerated the agents of the United States who in 2005 killed the Commander of the Boricua Popular Army–Macheteros, Filiberto Ojeda, was altered, eliminating from the prosecutor’s conclusion that he found proof of “murder.”

From the review of the two reports, forensic tests and witnesses, it can also be deduced that the Puerto Rico Department of Justice has a specific physical description of the sharpshooter who killed Ojeda, that from the beginning of the operation this agent was trying to make the fatal shot, and that a coverup could have begun on the very night of the incident.

In this way, and in spite of two official investigations— one from the U.S. and another from Puerto Rico— which found no criminal responsibility, the case of the commando group’s assault on Ojeda’s house remains open and unresolved, though he was wounded by a sharpshooter and bled to death while the FBI refused to allow him any medical attention.

The two key people in the new development are the then Attorney General Roberto José Sánchez Ramos and the nominee for chief of the Puerto Rico Police, José Figueroa Sancha, who at the time of the bloody event was the second in command of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in San Juan.

The first was the highest level official responsible for the report resulting in exoneration, and the second coordinated the logistics of the operation. Sánchez Ramos initiated a confusing chain of events related to a robot that was never used, and in which was involved a Puerto Rico Police intelligence official who, seven months before the incident, had been responsible for turning over to the FBI the whereabouts of the commander of the Macheteros in the western town of Hormigueros.

Copies of the “CONFIDENTIAL” draft of the report of assistant attorney general José Frank Nazario were sent to several governmental and private entities, and Ojeda’s attorney Luis F. Abreu Elías provided it to NCM News, who compared it to the final report.

Comparing both documents revealed that while assistant attorney general Nazario had posited that while there was insufficient evidence to support charges because they did not have evidence which was in the custody of the FBI, the final report decreed “cased closed.” But the differences between the two texts was much more serious.

While the draft concluded that “the evidence tends to demonstrate that the circumstances intervening to cause the death of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos could constitute the crime of murder,” in the final text this was changed to “in spite of all the irregularities, the evidence gathered by this Department (of Justice) is insufficient to establish that one or more of the federal officials involved committed criminal conduct in carrying out the operation.”

Another significant difference between the two documents is that while the draft discusses extensively why not to charge the agents and others involved in the incident with “negligent homicide” and instead direct the investigation toward “murder,” the report emphasizes the first and removes the second. In fact, assistant attorney general Nazario emphasizes in his draft the importance of obtaining “the communication logs and the plans for the operation,” while the final document orders the matter closed.

On the other hand, the forensic experts reconstructed the movements of the sharpshooter identified by the pseudonym “Bryan,” who at least one witness described as 5’10”, thin but muscular, with a mustache and blond hair cut close to his head. They found that during the initial assault “Bryan” shot three times toward the closed front door of the house, penetrating in the direction where Ojeda was found— guided auditorially— but they did not hit him due to the very low angle at which the agents were located.

After this first round, “Bryan” separated from the main group and sought out a high place off to the side, to fire another three shots toward the same point, always guided by the sound of Ojeda’s voice, demanding the presence of a journalist before discussing his surrender to agents.

After the shot which turned out to be fatal, and after receiving a show of solidarity from the other agents and supervisors, “Bryan” was removed from the scene, as were the other shooters in plain clothes, in a vehicle described by a witness as a brown minivan. The rest of the night, the house remained surrounded, while Ojeda was in agony.

Then, a series of acts began to make it appear that the operation was ongoing. According to several witnesses, agent Figueroa Sancha called coronel José Caldero to request the explosives detecting robot, but it was not useful in this case because of the rough terrain, and the then chief of the Puerto Rico Police, Pedro Toledo, authorized it to be sent by helicopter from Headquarters in San Juan.

With robot came its handler, veteran captain of intelligence José A. Ruiz Vargas, who had been responsible for turning over to the FBI the file with the whereabouts of Ojeda. After the helicopter was in flight, chief Toledo changed his mind and ordered Captain Ruiz to stay with the robot at the police station in Mayagüez and not go to Hormigueros.

The confusion with the robot continued, and even the FBI report indicates that they were waiting until the following day for a robot that was to arrive from Quantico, Virginia, that was also not used. Instead, they brought a trained dog, whose use was also prohibited by chief Toledo. The agents finally moved the body with a rope, but only after officials entered the house and took photos of the scene without much difficulty.

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