CARACAS, Venezuela – CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his country should ask the United States to extradite a man convicted in 2003 bombings who fled to Miami and is seeking asylum.
Chavez called Raul Diaz a terrorist in a televised Cabinet meeting, saying Venezuela is obliged to request his extradition even though he doubts the U.S. would turn him over.
Diaz maintains he is innocent and had no part in the 2003 bombings of the Spanish Embassy and Colombian consulate in Caracas, which injured four people.
Diaz told The Associated Press on Monday that he was able to escape because under the terms given him by a court, he was allowed to leave a prison during the day as long as he returned at night. He said he fled by boat to Trinidad, and flew to Miami on Sept. 5.
Before fleeing, the 36-year-old had served six years of a nine-year prison sentence. He was convicted of damaging property, public intimidation, causing light injuries and conspiracy.
Diaz has called the case against him an example of rights violations under Chavez.
"It was proven that he placed some bombs there at some embassies," Chavez said, insisting his "extradition must be requested."
Chavez suggested that the U.S. government, with which he has tattered relations, is unlikely to oblige.
"We know they aren't going to send him here. ... They protect them," Chavez said.
He added that in the United States, "coup-plotters and terrorists come and go."
Chavez also cited the case of Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles, who lives in the United States and is wanted in Venezuela for allegedly plotting the 1976 bombing of the Cuban plane that killed 73 people. Posada denies the accusations.